This article contains light spoilers for the plot of Sorry to Bother You.
“I just remember I heard the key words of, like, coke-fueled orgy, kind of a maniac,” Armie Hammer told IndieWire Studio of his decision to star in the rapper Boots Riley’s directorial debut, Sorry to Bother You. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m in, that sounds good!’”
The larger-than-life satire Hammer was describing follows a ragtag crew of Oakland young people who begin working as telemarketers at a shadowy company called RegalView. The plucky, morally conflicted Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) lives in his uncle’s garage and desperately needs the tedious gig his pal Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) helps hook him up with. Cash’s girlfriend, the eccentric artist and activist Detroit (Tessa Thompson), attempts to keep Cash “real” after he starts rising in the ranks at RegalView. His fellow dissatisfied telemarketers are attempting to unionize; they’re led to strike by Squeeze (Steven Yeun), a sultry, quick-witted revolutionary in pursuit of better wages, and Detroit. Cash, though, finds himself promoted into the elite domain of “Power Callers,” where he sells goods and services of far greater consequence. This is also how he meets Hammer’s character, the CEO of one of RegalView’s biggest clients, and possibly the perfect villain for 2018.
Hammer plays Steve Lift, the megalomaniacal CEO of Worry Free, a company that provides its participants with guaranteed housing and food after they sign lifelong labor contracts. Worry Free bills itself as the solution to nearly every social ill imaginable: homelessness, poverty, hunger, unemployment. But according to the activist group Left Eye, the firm’s anodyne veneer hides what is essentially a jazzed-up version of slavery—the core of the operation is the involuntary servitude of its participants.