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Actor Jonathan Majors' trial begins in New York City, after numerous delays

Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for jury selection in a domestic violence case.
Yuki Iwamura
/
AP
Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for jury selection in a domestic violence case.

Updated November 30, 2023 at 6:05 PM ET

Jury selection began Wednesday morning for Jonathan Majors' trial in New York City. The actor arrived in a Manhattan court to face misdemeanor charges of harassment and assaulting a former girlfriend. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Jury selection is scheduled to continue on Thursday morning. On Wednesday, Judge Michael Gaffney preliminarily sealed some evidence that could be damaging to the actor, describing it as "likely to be prejudicial and inflammatory." It will become public if it's deemed admissible for trial.

On Thursday, six jurors were selected from an initial pool of 39: three men and three women, with two alternates.

The alleged assault took place on the night of March 25, when Grace Jabbari accused Majors of slapping her as they rode in a car to his apartment, throwing her into the car after she got out of it, and twisting her arm and grabbing her hand violently enough to injure it. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries to her head and neck, including a cut to her ear.

Majors, a Yale drama graduate, had been cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a plum role, as archvillain Kang the Conqueror. Already a rising star for his performances in dramas such as Creed III and Lovecraft Country, he was seen as the new face of the billion-dollar franchise. His character has made appearances in the movie Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the second season of Loki, on Disney+.

But the actor has been dropped from several Hollywood movies currently in development. And at least one completed film he's starred in, Magazine Dreams, has delayed its release. Majors was also reportedly removed from an ad campaign and dropped by his management and publicist. Rumors have swirled for months around his future with Marvel, one of the biggest entertainment entities on the planet.

Majors' trial date has been pushed back and delayed several times, as his defense team has worked to minimize legal fallout from the alleged altercation and sought to have the case dismissed. His lawyer, Priya Chaudhry has called his accuser "a liar" and suggested she was partying and drinking after the alleged altercation. In June, Majors filed a complaint against Jabbari in which he alleged that she attacked him, after suspecting he was texting with another woman.

"Bravely, Jonathan Majors laid bare to the NYPD the relentless, alcohol-fueled abuse he suffered at the hands of Grace Jabbari, an enduring nightmare in their relationship. Now, as soon as Jabbari sets foot back in New York, the NYPD stands ready to arrest her," Chaudhry wrote in a statement to NPR in August.

New York's Police Department did arrest Jabbari, charging her with misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief. But the Manhattan district attorney's office declined to pursue that case, saying it lacked "prosecutorial merit."

Majors' team seems to hope that the charismatic actor will win over a jury; in September, a TMZ video circulated on social media showing Majors seeming to break up a fight between two teenage girls. The video was largely ridiculed as a public relations stunt. Jabbari, a London-based movement coach who worked with Majors professionally, is expected to testify.

If found guilty, Majors faces up to a year in prison.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 29, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that opening arguments would begin on Thursday. The opening arguments are not expected to begin until jury selection is complete.
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Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
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