Early life and family background
Hammer was born in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Dru Ann (née Mobley), is a former bank loan officer, and his father, Michael Armand Hammer, owns several businesses, including Knoedler Publishing and Armand Hammer Productions (a film/television production company). He has a younger brother, Viktor.
Hammer’s paternal great-grandfather was oil tycoon and philanthropist Armand Hammer. Armand’s own parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants, and Armand’s father, Julius Hammer, who was from Odessa, Ukraine, “founded the Communist Party in New York.” Armie’s paternal great-grandmother was Russian-born actress and singer Olga Vadimovna Vadina (aka Von Root), the daughter of a tsarist general.
His paternal grandmother was from Texas, while his mother’s family is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Armie has described his background as “half Jewish”. In 2013, genealogical research by staff members of Ancestry.com stated that one of Hammer’s eight times great-grandfathers was the Cherokee chief Kanagatucko.
Hammer lived in the Dallas enclave of Highland Park for several years. When he was seven, his family moved to the Cayman Islands, where they lived for five years, and then settled back in Los Angeles. He attended Faulkner’s Academy in Governor’s Harbour, Grace Christian Academy in the Cayman Islands (a school founded by his father), and later went to Los Angeles Baptist High School in the San Fernando Valley. He dropped out of high school in eleventh grade to pursue an acting career. Subsequently, he took college courses.
After appearing in the television series Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, Reaper and Desperate Housewives, Hammer played the Christian evangelist Billy Graham in Billy: The Early Years, which premiered in October 2008. The film garnered Hammer a “Faith and Values Award” nomination in the Grace Award category, which is awarded for the Most Inspiring Performance in Movie or Television by Mediaguide, an organization which provides movie reviews from a Christian perspective. He played Harrison Bergeron in 2081, based on the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by author Kurt Vonnegut, which premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival.
In 2007, Hammer was hand-picked by filmmaker George Miller, after a long search, to star in Justice League: Mortal as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The film was to be directed by Miller, but he left the project.
In 2010, Hammer co-starred in David Fincher’s The Social Network, about the creation of Facebook. He portrayed the identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, with Josh Pence, using CGI. Hammer stated that he had to learn how to row on both sides of a boat in order to play the twins, who are rowing champions.
His next role was in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, a drama about J. Edgar Hoover. He co-starred with Julia Roberts and Lily Collins in Mirror Mirror (2012), playing Prince Andrew Alcott. In January 2012, he voiced the Winklevoss twins in an episode of The Simpsons titled “The D’oh-cial Network”.
Hammer played the Lone Ranger, alongside Johnny Depp as Tonto, in the 2013 adaptation of the radio and film serials. In 2015, he starred in director Guy Ritchie’s film adaptation (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) of the 1960s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., playing Illya Kuryakin, opposite Henry Cavill. Hammer also played the character of Sam Turner in the 2016 film The Birth of a Nation. In this controversial film he co stars with Nate Parker and Preston L. Holmes. In January 2016, it was revealed that since 2013 that Hammer contacted the family of the infamous drug lord Edgar Valdez “La Barbie” and secured the rights to film the life story of the cartel leader.
Also in 2016, Hammer had a role in the ensemble of Tom Ford’s film Nocturnal Animals, starred as Ord in the action film Free Fire, written and directed by Ben Wheatley, and played the protagonist, Mike Stevens, in the film Mine.
Hammer next played Oliver in Call Me By Your Name, starring opposite Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg. The film, an adaptation of an André Aciman novel of the same name, was directed by Luca Guadagnino, began filming in May 2016, and premiered at Sundance in 2017. Also in 2017, he will have a voice role in Disney Pixar’s Cars 3. He will voice Jackson Storm, the movie’s main antagonist.
In 2018, Hammer co-starred in Boots Riley’s dark comedy Sorry to Bother You alongside Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yeun, and Tessa Thompson. Hammer’s character, Steve Lift, described as both an, “irresistibly funny” and “coke-snorting, abominable villain” by Film Journal International critic Tomris Laffly was, “played by Armie Hammer, perhaps too perfectly for his own good.” according to The New York Times critic A.O. Scott. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 20. The film won The 2019 National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films award. It also won Best Screenplay and Best First Feature at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards. He then appeared as David in the thriller Hotel Mumbai, about the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018. In the same year, Hammer starred alongside Felicity Jones, playing taxation law expert Martin D. Ginsburg, the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in On the Basis of Sex, a biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of Ruth, directed by Mimi Leder. It had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 8, 2018. In June 2018, Hammer led as Drew in Straight White Men at Second Stage Theater on Broadway. For his notable film works from 2017 to 2018, Hammer was awarded “Outstanding Achievement in Cinema” by The SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
In 2019, Hammer starred in Babak Anvari’s psychological horror film Wounds along with Dakota Johnson. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019. He then joined Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lilly in the opioid crisis thriller Dreamland. The film will be released in 2020. He has been cast in director Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. The film will co-star Branagh, along with Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright. He will also star as Maxim de Winter in a new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic romance Rebecca, to be directed by Ben Wheatley and co-starring Lily James.