Disney’s Death on the Nile finally premiered in theaters on Feb.11 after having been canceled several times the previous year due to the pandemic restrictions. Aside from the pandemic restrictions, however, some members of the cast were also surrounded by controversies, making the newly released film a drastic nightmare for publicists.
The star-studded film was anticipated to be a crowd-drawer from the beginning due to the star qualities of director Kenneth Branagh, who also plays Hercule Poirot, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Gal Gado as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne, Annette Bening as Euphemia, and Russell Brand as Dr. Ludwig Bessner, among others.
To begin with, it did not help at all that Armie Hammer was accused of rape and cannibalistic desires back in January 2021. 24-year-old Effie Angelnova accused Hammer of violent rape and repeated physical abuse throughout their complex four-year relationship. She is being represented by her legal counsel Gloria Allred.
In a virtual press conference, Effie detailed her experiences with Hammer. “On April 24, 2017, Armie Hammer violently raped me for over four hours in Los Angeles,” Effie revealed, “during which he repeatedly slapped my head against a wall, bruising my face. He also committed other acts of violence against me to which I did not consent.”
Apart from the rape, Effie also alleged that Hammer beat her with a crop “so they would hurt for the next week.” She added, “I thought that he was going to kill me.”
Hammer’s camp released an official statement through his attorney Andrew Brettler and denied all the allegations. “From day one, Mr. Hammer has maintained that all of his interactions with [Effie] — and every other sexual partner of his for that matter — have been completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory,” he said.
What people thought was a mere celebrity gossip and controversy that would eventually die a natural death was further fanned when Hammer’s former girlfriend Page Lorenze claimed that the actor carved an “A” on her skin using a knife.
As a result, Hammer’s talent agency and publicist let him go altogether. He was also fired from what would have been huge projects, including the films Shotgun Wedding and The Offer. Hammer had hoped that “Death on the Nile” would be his redemption movie after the series of controversies that haunted his career.
“This film has become every publicist’s worst nightmare,” according to a NY Post insider source. “It’s a project where everything which can go wrong has gone wrong — and there’s nothing to be done or said to make it better.”
What added fuel to the flame was the anti-vaccine statements expressed by Black Panther star Letitia Wright. The 27-year-old actress has since deleted her Instagram and Twitter posts that showed a video expressing skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine. While she has clarified why she posted that video, the backlash was massive from Marvel fans who wanted her to be fired from the Black Panther sequel.
“My intention was not to hurt anyone. My only intention of posting the video was to raise my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies,” she wrote in a deleted tweet. “Nothing else.”
Of course, it is also no secret that actor Russell Brand has been a powerful voice for anti-vaxxers. He has gained a huge following on Facebook and YouTube after expressing his doubts about the vaccines. Death on the Nile is a $160 million project by producer Ridley Scott. The coming days will reveal if publicists were correct in saying that the controversy-ridden film is truly the PR nightmare they perceive it to be.
Opinions expressed by Artist Weekly contributors are their own.