Jonathan Majors' trial on assault and harassment charges begins in New York
Jonathan Majors is expected to be in court today, facing misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment. If convicted, the actor could face up to a year in jail.
Only about a year ago, Majors was considered to be one of Hollywood's most promising rising stars. The 33-year-old actor, educated at the Yale School of Drama, was winning over audiences in prestigious TV shows and movies.
He was the hero of HBO's Lovecraft Country and the antagonist in Creed III, the blockbuster Rocky film. And Majors was set to break through as a mainstream celebrity after being cast as a major supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He became the subject of numerous adoring profiles, including on NPR, where he was described as "the internet's boyfriend."
But everything changed on March 25 when Majors was arrested in New York after allegedly assaulting a woman in what police called a "domestic dispute." She accused him of pulling her finger, twisting her arm, hitting her and pushing her into a vehicle so violently, she fell on the pavement. According to police, the girlfriend was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. She has not been named in court records.
Majors pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor assault, aggravated harassment, attempted assault and harassment. (Another charge, of strangulation, was later dropped). His lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, has maintained her client's innocence and suggested to NPR that, in fact, the accuser is the guilty party.
Soon after the charges were filed, Majors was reportedly dropped by both his management and public relations firm. Since then, the actor's reputation has been damaged by ongoing bad press about his off-screen behavior, both in his private life and on set.
In June, Majors appeared at a Manhattan courtroom for a hearing. His lawyer stated she had "compelling evidence" that would help prove Majors was wronged, but Judge Rachel Pauley issued a sealed decision that resulted in Chaudhry withdrawing court papers challenging the accuser's accusations. Details of that decision remain under wraps. The judge wished the actor "best of luck" while scheduling his trial.
The incident has shredded Majors' prospects in Hollywood. He was removed from a U.S. Army marketing campaign soon after it became public, and Marvel has downplayed Majors' involvement in numerous upcoming projects. His character, Kang the Conquer, was set up to be the primary villain in what's been called the MCU's "Multiverse Saga." But Majors can barely be glimpsed in the trailer for the second season of Marvel Studio's television show Loki. And it has pushed back the release date for the next two Avengers movies, The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, in which Majors was to have been prominently featured.
It's easy to draw parallels with another emerging star whose career was derailed earlier this summer. Ezra Miller's lead role in The Flash was expected to anoint the actor as the center of a lucrative DC franchise. But analysts have pointed to their legal issues and off-screen controversies to explain in part why the film, released in June, became one of the biggest box office bombsof all time.
This story was edited by Barbara Campbell.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.