Jonathan Majors Bets on 'High Risk, Low Reward' PR Ahead of Verdict – The Hollywood Reporter

Jonathan Majors is working to salvage his reputation and career by giving an interview on January 8 in which he declared his innocence before sentencing, a move that experts say is legally and professionally risky.

the Creed III A jury convicted the Marvel actor last December of third-degree reckless assault, a misdemeanor, and second-degree harassment, a felony. The charges stem from an incident inside a car on March 25, in which Grace Jabbari, Majors' former partner, testified that she saw a text message on his phone indicating he was cheating on her, so she took it from him. She said the actor then injured her, including removing her finger from the phone and hitting her head as he tried to take the phone from her and then put her back in the car.

Majors faces up to a year in prison for these charges, and has already suffered a stunning career decline as a result, with Marvel Studios firing him from the starring role in the upcoming Avengers film (and countless other appearances) just hours after the ruling. . Meanwhile, his potential awards nominee Ahlam magazine It remains in limbo at the Disney-owned Searchlight studio.

But Majors' talent agency, WME, is still representing him, and his agent, Ilan Ruspoli, was one of the witnesses brought in by the defense team to testify on his behalf. At that time, Ruspoli said Majors called him daily, including on the morning of March 25, when Majors tried to enter the locked bedroom area of ​​his apartment (Jabbari, who was inside, testified that she did not hear Majors try to enter). ). Ruspoli testified that Majors seemed “out of sorts.”

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Majors interview with ABC News Good morning America (a sister company of the Disney studio that dropped the actor) marks his first time speaking publicly since his conviction in December, in what he said was an attempt to “be brave and take responsibility” for his story. Majors did not testify during the trial.

In the interview, Majors denied Al-Jabbari's version of events, adding that he had never hit a woman or been involved in domestic violence in any of his relationships. Noting that he did not know how Al-Jabbari was injured, he said that he had “no doubt” that he was not the cause. He said his only responsibility was to be in the car and in the relationship.

“I shouldn't have been in the car. I shouldn't have gotten out of the relationship. I shouldn't have been in the relationship,” he said. “If I hadn't been in the car, none of this would have happened.”

However, with Majors still facing sentencing on February 6, this strategy could backfire. Cary London, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney at Shulman & Hill, notes that it is “extremely unusual” for a defendant to interview between conviction and sentencing, as most avoid such a step for fear that it might negatively impact the judge's decision. Many observers, including London's, had not previously thought Majors would go to prison, but the interview introduces a new factor to take into account.

“The judge has a wide range of tools at his disposal when sentencing, including anger management, community service, other programs, and prison time,” London says. “If the defendant says anything that angers the judge, or insults the integrity of the judicial system, I can easily see the judge He tastes the taste of prison.

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During the interview, Majors expressed his “shock” at the ruling: “How is this possible? “Based on the evidence, based on the prosecution’s evidence, not to mention our own.” GMA It aired a statement from prosecutors saying Majors' statements in the interview showed a “clear lack of remorse.”

While Kate Mangels, a partner at Kinsella Holley, suggests the facts of the crime may be more important in sentencing, she says Majors' lack of remorse could play a role in determining the judge. Additionally, prosecutors can bring the interview to the judge's attention, and Aljabari can also include it in a victim impact statement.

But she says public perception may have outweighed that risk for Majors. “From a purely legal standpoint, it would be wiser to wait to make a public statement until after the ruling. But Majors will likely have to weigh other factors such as public relations and his future career opportunities,” Mangels says.

During the interview, Majors was asked if he thought he would ever work in Hollywood again. “Yes, I do. I pray to God I do,” he said.

But, as one crisis PR expert, speaking anonymously, says, doing this interview could also be a “high-risk, low-reward strategy” for Majors' career, given that the sentence is still a possibility and any news on this one is bad. The front is likely to punch above its weight. Any positives the interview may produce. That doesn't mean Majors will never be able to return to his career, but this source believes it's unlikely he'll be able to move the needle on his career, especially with this interview, in the next few weeks. “You can't rebuild your house while the hurricane is still raging in the sky,” adds the crisis public relations expert.

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This story appeared in the January 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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