All Tied Up: Let’s Talk About Armie Hammer
The chances are, your favourite celebrity isn’t running their own Twitter account.
Social media management is a fascinating occupation of the modern age. It forces corporations to adopt a façade of personable warmth and achingly cool personality to shill everything from burgers to drain cleaner. Major chains will be represented by one beleaguered employee manning the account amidst a barrage of angry messages from people who don’t quite understand that very little can be accomplished on their end. In the world of celebrity and entertainment, visibility is of utmost importance, but now there is the illusion of access. You feed fans with the possibility that they too can get a reply from you, or they may find your joke funny enough to like it. Most of the time, this gig is outsourced to a star’s publicist or a 3rd party representative who specializes in authentically replicating the voice of their client for online purposes. If you were one of the biggest stars on the planet and had to put up with thousands of insults combined with countless tweens calling you ‘mummy’ or ‘dad’, you’d probably pay someone to cover that job too.
That’s what makes it so fascinating when you can tell a celebrity is running their own Twitter account. There’s no reason for them to do so, it would probably be safer and less of a mental strain to do so, and their PR teams would probably prefer a quieter life where there’s no fear of a tweet gone wrong. Being a right-wing baiting Trump troll who occasionally indulges in Japanese rope bondage makes you an ideal candidate to get a social media team, just in case it all gets a little too embarrassing.
For Armie Hammer, that unruliness has just made him more interesting. Why be the pretty face when you can be the freak?
Armand Douglas Hammer was handpicked for stardom at the earliest point in his career. The young actor, born from immense privilege with eclectic family roots in publishing, entertainment and Communism, was hand picked by director George Miller to play Bruce Wayne himself in his planned take on Justice League in 2007. This was after Christopher Nolan re-invented the character for the big screen, but way before the term ‘expanded universe’ became common in the entertainment vernacular, and Warner Bros. were hoping to have their bat-cake and eat it too. As you can imagine, this would have been a major deal for an actor whose filmography was mostly bit part appearances in TV.
Hammer certainly looked the part - he’s a man of such epic levels of handsomeness that it almost becomes bland. He’s undeniably good looking but in the way where you can’t help but note how many other handsome guys look exactly like him, symmetrically perfect and with a jawline you could chisel marble from. As GQ noted in a 2015 profile, ‘It means being so unimpeachably, conventionally good-looking, you have transcended appeal into boring perfection.’ He’s Disney Prince pretty; Abercrombie & Fitch pretty; That nice man helping your grandmother cross the road pretty. That’s certainly great news for anyone looking to cast a hero whose nipple moulded suit was last worn by George Clooney.
Imagine a Justice League film about a Bruce Wayne who builds an army of robots that go rogue and want to take over the world, forcing the League, comprised of Hammer, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, and Common as Green Lantern, to fight back. The budget was huge (reportedly between $220 - 300m), the director acclaimed, and filming set to begin in Australia. Then the writer’s strike happened, and then filming was delayed, and then production was removed from Australia, so Miller jumped ship. Bad news for Hammer, who went back to bit parts and questionable movie choices - a biopic of Billy Graham?! - but found his breakout role a couple of years later, not once, but twice.
It’s probably every showboating actor’s dream to play twins: Why show off all your skills in just one role when you can act against yourself for maximum impact? David Fincher’s The Social Network needed its foils, and who better to play the Winklevoss Twins than Hammer? Cameron and Tayler Winklevoss, who allege that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and sued for $65m, are positioned as the jocks to Zuckerberg’s nerd: The ’80s college campus movie with more brains and limitless spite. The Winklevosses are handsome, athletic, rich and have been allotted privilege by society to do whatever they want, but Zuckerberg has the brains to actually do it. Hammer plays the brothers with a sneering bravado, the kind that shows two men who wouldn’t say out loud that they’re better than you but yeah, actually, they probably would. It’s a great performance(s) and one that banks heavily on the reality of Hammer just being super-hot. If you were that handsome, wouldn’t you feel like you deserved everything?
Playing varying degrees of handsome can be immensely boring (although hardly the most difficult task in an aesthetic driven industry), and Hammer has always found fascinating shades in that process. In the sadly underrated Mirror Mirror, he plays the literal handsome prince who’s not so secretly kind of useless; In Nocturnal Animals, he is the buff representation of Amy Adams’s perfect but unfulfilled life; and even in voice form in Cars 3, he’s the grandstanding pretty boy of the future who puts the old generation to shame. Going against that grain, like his first post-The Social Network stab at prestige glory in Clint Eastwood’s wildly misjudged biopic J. Edgar, didn’t stick. Putting on bad prosthetics may indicate a dedication to the craft, but the end result was borderline camp in its ineptitude.
Between 2013 and 2015, Hammer had two shots at leading man glory, both of which flopped at the box office, but neither were total creative failures. First came The Lone Ranger, Disney’s attempt to breathe life into the icon of old with a massive budget and oddly bleak approach to the material. Hammer was visually right for the role, a hero from an older era, part Jimmy Stewart, part Errol Flynn. He’s not half bad, but he’s saddled with one big racist elephant in the room, that being the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto. It’s not just that it’s difficult to watch a white man with a bird on his head pretend to be a Native American - although it totally is - the problem is that the film bends over backwards to serve Depp’s shtick. It’s not really a film about The Lone Ranger: It’s an attempt to make a solo Captain Jack Sparrow movie in the Old West. Understandably, the movie flopped hard, grossing $260m from a bafflingly high $250m budget.
Hammer’s next leading man role wasn’t much of an improvement in terms of box office gross, but stylistically, it was a far better fit. I could probably talk about Guy Ritchie’s wonderful adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. until I’m blue in the face. I love it. It’s a delightful fizz of a movie, a GQ photoshoot come to life with dazzling fluidity and frenetic set-pieces. It’s a movie where the two leading men, dashing CIA agent Napoleon Solo and brooding KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, fight over whether the heroine’s outfit should fully co-ordinate. It’s a film where the score includes jazz flutes. It’s the Bond movie you wish they’d make if they stopped worrying about all that tragic backstory crap. Hammer also finds his niche: Just stoic enough but always in on the joke. His Illya is basically a 1960s Soviet spy stereotype, but lovingly so, and his one-up games against his cocky American counterpart - played by Henry Cavill with such charisma and sex appeal that you wonder if he’s contractually obliged to be a drip in the DCU - keep the action moving forward. It’s pure peacock strutting, but when everyone looks this good and is having so much fun, who cares? Nowadays, the film has a small but mighty fanbase, possibly made up entirely of Film Twitter, but the chances of us getting the sequel we deserve are scant.
It’s taken until this year but 2017 may be the time Hammer finally sees his career catapulted to the next level. Call Me by Your Name, the coming-of-age drama directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, is based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman, and centres on a 17 year old boy living in Italy with his family who forms a passionate relationship with an older academic assistant of his father. Immediately upon its premiere at Sundance, reviews were rapturous. Hammer has already been credited with giving the performance of his career. Finally, the pretty face has character, but once again, that handsomeness plays well with the role of a doctorate student who becomes the object of fascination and adoration for a younger man. It’s masculinity made emotional. It could see him go all the way to the Oscars if he’s hungry enough for it.
Hammer seems aware of the trappings of his brand of masculinity, but he doesn’t seem all that trapped by them. He likes guns, priding himself on being a responsible owner but also joking that ‘it’s fun to have a gun on your hip. You’re like, ‘This is an extension of my manhood.” He drinks whisky, eats his steak rare, enjoys a cigar now and then, and boy does he love knots. He doesn’t mind bringing that up either, although when he was asked about it on Stephen Colbert’s show, he briefly faked coyishness. When asked why, the audience laughed. They knew the obvious joke but still humoured Hammer when he said it was because ‘they make sense, they’re logical… there’s just a language to them.’ To his credit, he is very good at tying knots, which I’m sure his wife appreciates.
When we talked about Channing Tatum, we discussed the ways in which he has harnessed his past as a stripper to excellent form in his movie career, using that status as an object of desire for women to emphasise his appeal to that demographic. Hammer is Disney prince handsome but he’s never been quiet about his love of getting down and fucking his wife. In an interview with Playboy - where else? - Hammer admitted he kept one of the Lone Ranger masks and ‘my wife loves it’, he talked about being a ‘dominant lover’ but changing that once he married, and experimenting in the bedroom. He doesn’t say anything graphic, but the message is clear as to how he likes it and that he and the lovely Elizabeth Chambers go at it like woodchucks. Hammer’s a freak, but a respectful one.
Anyone can find proof of his preferences if you dig through his Twitter likes long enough. His penchant slants heavily towards Japanese rope bondage, and he has no shame in showing that off. Have a browse and you’ll find a solid mix of film promotion, Trump hating and women in latex hanging from the ceiling. Hammer’s even happy to indulge others with a like or two if they show the goods, like one user who bragged that they bet they could get Hammer to like a photoshoot of Cate Blanchett in bondage gear (Hammer complied). Outlets reported the likes as something he probably wasn’t aware of and would be embarrassed by, but it’s clear he has no guilt or shame in it. Why would he? He’s got, his wife is beautiful, he’s got two adorable kids and his career’s never been better: Rope bondage and S&M is just the icing on top of a very pretty cake.
It’s not just his kinks that make Hammer’s Twitter account so interesting. Like Chris Evans, he’s passionate about reminding the world of how awful Donald Trump is, and how racists should be punched accordingly. There’s no faux mercy here or calls for peace: Hammer thinks Nazis should be punched. His recent smackdown of James Woods was a moment of pure catharsis. In between his usual routine of being the worst person ever, Woods RT-d a faux concern troll tweet from conservative author Chad Felix Green regarding the age difference between the romantic leads in Call Me By Your Name, then added, ‘As they quietly chip away the last barriers of decency. #NAMBLA’. Putting aside the point that the age of consent in Italy is 14, Hammer brought down the ultimate ahem, hammer of justice and responded accordingly.
Didn't you date a 19 year old when you were 60…….?— Armie Hammer (@armiehammer) September 11, 2017
It’s quietly devastating and an utter joy to watch. Hammer has, as the kids say, zero chill, and he has no qualms about letting the world know he’s not here to be the quiet nice guy. Well, he’ll always be the nice guy, the handsome guy, the prettiest guy in the room, but he’s also got a few more tricks up his sleeve.
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