For those who worship at the altar of hot celebrity couples, it’s been a tough spring and summer. Kelly Clarkson, Kristin Cavallari, Cardi B, and more are seeing the end of their marriages, and we’re starting to think this whole worldwide shutdown might have something to do with it. Armie Hammer, who in July announced he was splitting from wife of ten years Elizabeth Chambers, is speaking out about his breakup too — but even more so, he’s talking about the weeks and months that led up to it. Hammer’s restlessness, uncertainty, and despair will sound familiar to anyone whose area employed strict lockdown measures. But moreover, they lend a lot of insight into how Hammer came to the realization that a separation from Chambers was for the best.
When lockdown came for Hammer, he was staying at the Cayman Islands (where he grew up) with his father, his father’s new wife, Chambers, and their kids Harper and Ford. While he was grateful for the safety of his setting and the time with his children, the intensity of lockdown restrictions on the island quickly got inside his head.
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“America has turned into a raging dumpster fire… That’s why I’m out here in the desert. There’s nothing." For the second of our November cover stories, #Rebecca and #DeathOnTheNile star #ArmieHammer speaks openly to @jonathangq about the critical importance of conversation, his despair over American politics and his wildly differing experiences holed up in the Caymans and the Californian desert. LINK IN BIO to download. Photography by @ericraydavidson. Styling by @atvottero. Creative Direction by @paulsolomonsgq. // #GQ Editor @dylanjonesgq.
We’d be looking out at the ocean, but couldn’t go in the ocean; looking at the beach, but couldn’t go on the beach. We couldn’t leave the apartment, couldn’t go in the pool, couldn’t do anything,” he tells British GQ. “It was a very complicated, intense situation, with big personalities all locked in a little tiny place…I think, to be quite frank, I came very close to completely losing my mind. I just felt completely powerless. And I was on an island where the lockdown was so severe that mail couldn’t even come in. I felt so intensely trapped…I was just like, ‘I can’t do this. Get me out of here.'”
Eventually, Hammer realized that he wasn’t going to be able to squash these feelings down: “I’d never dealt with anything like that before in my life, so I didn’t have the tools,” he explains. “It was just this thing that snuck up on everybody.”
The actor sought out therapy, and began doing twice weekly “crisis” sessions to work through what he was feeling. It helped, he says, hugely, and he now recommends it to all his friends. And a few weeks after that, he and Chambers announced their separation on Instagram.
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Thirteen years as best friends, soulmates, partners and then parents. It has been an incredible journey, but together, we’ve decided to turn the page and move on from our marriage. As we enter into this next chapter, our children and relationship as co-parents and dear friends will remain our priority. We understand this news lends itself to public dialogue, but in the interest of our children and our family, we’re asking for privacy, compassion and love during this time.
Hammer addressed his divorce directly too while reflecting on lockdown: “I don’t think you’ll find anyone in the world who would ever say what I’m going through is an easy thing to go through. It’s not about whether it was your idea or not, or whether you think it’s the right idea or you don’t. Either way, a separation like this is a seriously seismic event in someone’s life.”
This is neither here nor there, but saying “it’s not about whether it was your idea or not” about a breakup really implies it was, in fact, your idea — something for Hammer to keep in mind going forward if that’s not what he intended. There’s no shame in ending a relationship that no longer serves the people in it. And while he’s right that no one would ever describe this kind of separation as easy, there are quite a few who would attest that it was worth it in the end.
In their breakup announcement, Hammer and Chambers referred to “thirteen years as best friends, soulmates, partners, and then parents,” and — don’t laugh! — it can be just as rattling for fans to see seemingly solid celebrity couples break up as when it happens to people in their own lives. Hearing Hammer’s description of how he spent the spring and summer, I’m no longer worried that this couple suffered some huge breach of trust or rushed into a hasty decision. It sounds like they both did some soul-searching and it was really, truly time to move on.
Before you go, click here for all the celebrity splits and divorces we never saw coming.