When I walk into Armie Hammer’s suite at New York’s Crosby Hotel, Hammer is splayed across the bed. It’s the middle of the day on a Saturday, and Hammer is still fully dressed in a maroon sweater, black jeans, and sneakers. “I’m not going to be laying down here during the interview, I promise,” he says. “This is going to be like therapy — I’m going to lay down on the couch.” In one fluid motion, the six-foot-five actor peels himself off the bed and relocates to the couch, kicks up his feet, and smiles. “Can we talk about my deepest fears?” he deadpans.
We’re in his suite to talk about something similarly daunting: Hammer’s new movie, Hotel Mumbai, in which he plays a tourist on holiday in Mumbai with his wife (Nazanin Boniadi) and baby when a series of terrorist attacks begin to unfold across the city. Directed by Anthony Maras, the film is based on the real 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and though many of the characters (including Hammer’s) are composites (rather than based on real victims), the film is a bleak, difficult watch. It’s also something of a departure for Hammer, who’s beloved in the public imagination for cavorting sexily through Italy with Timothée Chalamet.
So perhaps it’s appropriate that we’re talking about Hotel Mumbai in patient-therapist format. We also delve into some less-bleak subject matters: the status of Call Me by Your Name’s much-anticipated sequel, whether Hammer is going to play the Invisible Man or Batman, and why he’s suddenly gone quiet on social media.
Hotel Mumbai is a very dark, very violent film. Why take it?
The script was incredible. Brutal. It was just dripping with humanity. And I saw a few of Anthony’s short films, and he made a short film called The Palace that was so fucking intense that I literally had to pause it at one point and stand up and pace around the room. And be like, “What is he doing? Why is he doing this to me? This is a personal attack! I’m being attacked by this man and this direction!” And I thought, If he can do this in a short …
How were you able to get in and out of this really dark place on set?
I had no choice, really. You’re being pursued by men with guns, screaming at you in a language you don’t understand, running through smoke-filled corridors. It felt really firsthand. And also, it was a very serious set. And not just because the subject matter is so intense, but because we all couldn’t help but just feel and be reminded that people had really gone through this. And they didn’t have the luxury of yelling “Cut!” when things got too intense for them. It was really somber, and the way we dealt with that was to celebrate each other’s presence at night. We’d go to dinner and just sit and have meals and talk and just laugh and joke and have wine, and really try to enjoy life, knowing that these people didn’t have that opportunity. We were filming in a situation where the idea of life felt really fleeting, so we tried to make the best of it at night.
Was your family on set?
Elizabeth [Chambers, Hammer’s wife] was there. Harper [Hammer’s daughter] was there. Not on set on set, because there was a lot of gunfire and blood. Elizabeth was like, “Aah, I don’t want to do this.” And Harper is so young, I don’t want to subject her to that.
You’re subjected to some serious violence in this movie. Was it particularly upsetting for Elizabeth or your family to see you in this one?
The overall violence was more upsetting than [mine] specifically. Just feeling like you were in a first-person terror attack was really jarring. So it was about the bigger issue more than me — that this shit happens, and that fucking sucks. It just happened again [in New Zealand]. How about we just stop fucking shooting each other? Antiquated, extremist ideas. Xenophobic philosophies. Extremism, indoctrination. Enough. It’s so dumb.
You’ve been pretty politically outspoken on Instagram and Twitter, but lately you’ve gone quiet. What’s that about?
Healthy emotional boundaries.
When did you put those up?
Not soon enough. [Laughs.] It was fun for a while, the whole social media thing — “I can say whatever I want,” “Ooh, that got me in trouble,” “Oh, I can say this,” “Ooh, that got me in trouble, too.” It’s a dangerous dance partner. You might have a moment of fun dancing, and then it’s gonna stomp on your feet. I’m just like, I’m getting too old for this shit. I’m done.
Was there a specific moment where you were like, “I’m done”?
No, it was kind of gradual. It was a generalized thing, built up of specific moments.
Like when you were fighting with Jeffrey Dean Morgan?
Yeah. Part of me was like, “Oh, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, really, lashing out here? Methinks thou doth protest too much, my man! Do you feel guilty about posting a picture of you and Stan Lee after he died?” [Laughs.]
I heard a rumor someone lost a hand while filming Hotel Mumbai?
No, the director lost a thumb! He stuck it into a fan by accident. In India, they don’t have the same safety precautions; they don’t have OSHA. He tried to move a fan that didn’t have a grate over it. His thumb went into it and it just went [makes the noise of a thumb being cut off by a fan]. It shot blood everywhere. And Dev [Patel] ended up finding the thumb on the floor; they ran on foot to a hospital. Tried to reattach it, and they couldn’t.
He has no thumb?
He’s got, like, half a thumb.
How long did it take to start filming again?
He was out for three days in the hospital, and finished directing the movie from a hospital gurney on set.
Holy shit, really?
Yeah, it was hilarious. This was toward the end of the movie.
I have to ask about the Call Me by Your Name sequel. It’s in my contract.
Is it really?
No, but we do care so much. So what’s the latest?
Timmy’s out! I’m not sure why. Timmy said the only way he’d do it is if they paid him $15 million. [Laughs.] No, the truth is, there have been really loose conversations about it, but at the end of the day — I’m sort of coming around to the idea that the first one was so special for everyone who made it, and so many people who watched it felt like it really touched them, or spoke to them. And it felt like a really perfect storm of so many things, that if we do make a second one, I think we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. I don’t know that anything will match up to the first, you know?
The experience of filming it, or the movie itself?
Do Timmy and Luca feel that way, too?
I don’t know. I haven’t had that conversation with them explicitly. But I mean, look. If we end up with an incredible script, and Timmy’s in, and Luca’s in, I’d be an asshole to say no. But at the same time, I’m like, That was such a special thing, why don’t we just leave that alone?
That’s new, though, because you’ve said for a while now that you guys were saying it was definitely happening. What shifted for you?
I’m not sure that it was ever really definitely going to happen. People just seemed so excited about it that we were like, “Oh, yeah, fuck it! We’ll do it, sure!” [Turns to publicist.] Was it ever really like, real real?
Publicist: I think it’s not real until it is.
Hammer: It’s not real until it is. And I won’t do it for less than, uh, $10 million! [Laughs loudly.]
So there’s no script or concrete plans.
No. I was talking to Luca, and he was like, “I think it might be fun to do this, or it might be fun to do this!” And I was like, “Those all sound like great ideas!” But that’s as real as it is right now. And I was joking about $10 million. I want $12 million.
Okay, I’ll make sure to write that down.
$12.5 million actually. Let’s go $12.5 million. Plus 10 percent commission for my agent. [Laughs.]
When was the last time you talked to Timmy and Luca?
Timmy and I texted yesterday. Luca, I talked to him the day of the Indie Spirit Awards.
The last time you spoke to Vulture, you did this great profile with Kyle Buchanan. And you spoke about how, in certain ways, you had fallen in love with Luca on set. When he read that profile, what was his response to it?
It didn’t really come up. But it was the thing we both felt. It’s not like he read it and was surprised. He was like, Aw, nice of you to say. I feel the same way. It’s a really intense process to make a movie in a foreign country. And when you do it with people you really resonate with, it forms a special bond.
I’m really excited about your upcoming remake of Rebecca. How are you going to make your version of Maxim de Winter different, Armie Hammer–ish?
Well, he’s going to look like me. It’s funny because we’re still really getting into it. There’s a new draft of the script coming up soon, and Ben [Wheatley] is such an amazing director and so collaborative that I feel like we’re going to come up with something really interesting and different than the Laurence Olivier version. With that being said, we haven’t started getting into it yet. It’s a couple months out; we’re filming this summer.
And what about these Invisible Man rumors?
I recently read those myself! What is the Invisible Man?
It’s part of Universal’s Dark Universe.
What is the Dark Universe?
They tried to build a franchise around their classic monsters, like Frankenstein.
Okay. I don’t know what that is. I’m not against it! So it’s a peripheral universe?
They had these big plans to create a universe, and it failed, and there are rumors they’re trying to restart it again … with you.
Shows you how much they’ve talked to me about it. I haven’t heard anything about it from anyone who makes actual decisions. I read about it online: “Armie Hammer might play the Invisible Man.” I was like, “Okay! Do I have to be in it?”
That’s true, because you’re invisible.
I know, that’s the thing! Voice-over job? That would be so easy. I would do that in a second.
You could literally phone it in.
I would literally phone it in!
Do you have a Google alert for yourself?
No, no, no. That’s part of the healthy emotional boundaries. I feel like a lot of the things on the internet, like Twitter, are largely populated by the people that go on Yelp and write one-star reviews just to be like, “Fuck that place!” I don’t want to take the brunt of that. I used to. Full disclosure, I used to have a Google alert for myself, and search myself on Twitter. It never gave me anything other than anxiety, so I was like, “Maybe it’s best to just not do this.” If you don’t Google yourself, and you don’t know about something, it doesn’t exist at all.
Though you did know about the Invisible Man.
I did. Because I get asked about that, and also about Batman: “Are you gonna do Batman?” I’m like, “No …” They’re like, “Are you gonna do the Invisible Man?” And I’m like, “Who is making these calls?! No!”
Which man will you be, Armie?
The bat or the invisible? But, no, neither.