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Jonathan Majors’ ‘Extreme Abuse’ Allegedly Goes Back Nearly a Decade

Majors was abusive with his partners, aggressive on sets, and a source of “toxicity” at Yale, two dozen sources tell Rolling Stone. Majors “vehemently denies” all accusations
Illustration by Griffin Lotz

J onathan Majors was a Hollywood star — and on the cusp of going supernova. The Last Black Man in San Francisco first brought him critical acclaim. Lovecraft Country, The Harder They Fall, and Creed III propelled his popularity. And most recently, early buzz for his upcoming film Magazine Dreams and his recurring Kang the Conqueror character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were set to make him a household name. 

But lately, most headlines about Majors have been involving a messy domestic-violence case. In March, Majors was arrested for allegedly attacking a girlfriend. And this week, the New York Post and New York Times both reported that the New York Police Department has alerted officers that there is probable cause to arrest Majors’ accuser, as well. The criminal case against Majors remains open and the allegations threaten to upend his career — the first public stain on an otherwise unblemished reputation. In dozens of new interviews with Rolling Stone, however, those who have known Majors over the past decade claim he has a history of abusive behavior.

During this three-month investigation, Rolling Stone spoke with more than 40 people who have known Majors during his time in graduate school, his Hollywood career, and his romantic relationships. Many describe Majors as being a complicated, unpredictable, and sometimes violent man, who can switch from charming to cold in a flash. (All of the sources for this article requested anonymity, citing fear of career repercussions and personal retribution from Majors. Some claim they were prohibited from speaking. “My only response can be that I am silenced by an NDA he had me sign,” says one person who worked with Majors.) 

Their stories suggest a pattern of alleged physical, mental, and emotional abuse that dates back a decade to Majors’ time at Yale’s David Geffen School of Drama — where he was involved in physical altercations — and continued to the sets of his movies and TV shows, where production members raised concerns over his treatment of crew. 

Jonathan Majors vehemently denies Rolling Stone’s false allegations that he physically, verbally, or emotionally abused anyone, let alone any of his past romantic partners,” Majors’ attorney, Dustin A. Pusch, wrote in a statement. “These allegations are based entirely on hearsay because neither of the romantic partners referenced were willing to engage with Rolling Stone for the article — demonstrating their outright falsity.”  Pusch added that Majors “also denies any allegations of abuse, violence, or intimidation during his time at Yale.” 

Most seriously, more than a dozen sources collectively claim to Rolling Stone that Majors allegedly abused two romantic partners — one physically, both of them emotionally. “It was pervasively known that he was [a good actor], and that he also would terrorize the people that he had dated,” one of those sources says. 

Majors allegedly strangled one woman he was dating, and was mentally and emotionally abusive with her, nine of those sources claim. The second woman allegedly told friends that her relationship with Majors was “emotional torture.” 

Those who are friends with the women or were present during their relationships with Majors independently corroborated details of the alleged abuse. Throughout conversations with Rolling Stone, they describe feeling alarmed by what they witnessed at the time or what they were told by the women.

Rolling Stone is withholding the names of the women and the specifics of their relationships, as several sources voiced fear that Majors and his team would retaliate against the women. 

“My experience in dealing with him and watching him in relationships with several women [is] really upsetting,” says one person familiar with at least two of Majors’ relationships. “As an outside observer, it made me uncomfortable.”

Majors was aggressive at work, as well, according to sources. Most recently, on the set of the upcoming film Magazine Dreams, two production members claim the 33-year-old actor pushed one person while on set and physically intimidated another while screaming at them, leading to a complaint to producers. The sources say executive producers warned them to give Majors his space. (A production source with knowledge of the situation claims to Rolling Stone that producers were only aware of one complaint that was made toward the end of filming, and disputed the person was physically intimidated.)

“The allegations that Mr. Majors got physical with or physically intimidated anyone on any movie set are downright false,” Pusch wrote in the statement to Rolling Stone. “Everyone who has worked with Mr. Majors knows that he employs an immersive Method acting style, and while that can be misconstrued as rudeness at times, those who know Mr. Majors and work in the industry have attested to his dedication to his craft as well as his kindness.” 

These new allegations come against the backdrop of Majors’ ensuing case over the recent domestic abuse claims. Last week, a judge ruled the case will go to trial starting Aug. 3. Majors’ legal team has vehemently denied the woman’s accusations, and a day after his court hearing, Majors filed his own police complaint against the woman, claiming he was the victim in the domestic dispute. (As The New York Times notes, it’s not unheard-of in domestic-violence cases for both parties to be charged. For now, however, the NYPD has confirmed to Rolling Stone the investigation into the initial accuser was ongoing, but no additional arrest has been made.)

“No one is surprised that this is coming out,” one source says. “It always felt like it was a matter of time because his behavior never changed. He’s kind of a bad dude, and now it’s just catching up with him.”

Majors in the 2017 miniseries When We Rise Eike Schroter/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images

Throughout conversations with more than a dozen sources, Rolling Stone has learned of two women Majors allegedly abused either physically and/or emotionally. (The two women declined to comment for this article, with one of the women, through a spokesperson, citing fear of retribution.)

One woman who dated Majors was strangled and physically and emotionally abused, nine sources familiar with their relationship claim. At first, the sources say, Majors was romantic with the woman before becoming more manipulative and volatile. The situation became “really extreme abuse, physically and mentally,” one source claims, and allegedly escalated to the point of “him strangling her.” Two sources claim she tried to leave multiple times and had an exit plan at one point, but remained in the relationship. 

Majors emotionally abused a second woman he was dating, nine people familiar with their relationship allege. The woman said her relationship with Majors was “emotional torture,” according to one source. Though the woman told friends at the time Majors was never physically abusive with her, she said there were moments of “near violence” where he would “get filled with rage,” says the source the woman confided in. The woman told the source that Majors would say he “needed to hit something or punch a wall or something of that nature.”

“No one is surprised that this is coming out. It always felt like it was a matter of time because his behavior never changed.”

Another source claims Majors was “controlling” with this partner, and a second source confirms Majors wanted the woman to be submissive to him, demanding he be in charge of everything from what they ate to who the partner could interact with. Multiple sources conveyed he exploited his power in the relationship to prevent her from leaving him. A third source alleges there was “intense jealousy” in their relationship. “She said on a few occasions that he wanted her to believe that he was the oxygen in the room [and] that she could not live without him,” the first source adds. And if she “considered leaving, that would be the most foolish thing she had ever done.” 

As part of Majors’ legal team’s response to Rolling Stone’s request for comment on the abuse allegations, his attorneys sent six character witness statements from women who Majors had dated or was close with. Majors’ attorney noted in his statement that Rolling Stone “was provided statements from Mr. Majors’s actual past romantic partners attesting to his character and the falsity of the charges, but Rolling Stone purposefully ignored those facts and red flags and published the false charges anyway.”

In fact, Rolling Stone reached out to all six people. Three say they never gave Majors’ team permission to release such statements. Another woman declined to share the statement credited to her by Majors’ team, saying it was prewritten, not truthful, and that she had never approved of its release. (One did not respond to a request for comment.) 

Only one woman consented to making her statement public. Haley Carter, a woman whom Majors dated from age 13 to 18, described Majors as “sweet, kind and gentle,” in a message drafted in late March. ”After 20 years of knowing him, I can tell you who Jonathan is. He did not do these things,” the statement said, in part. “He is exactly the opposite of what these allegations say. Jonathan is the most self-controlled, disciplined, well-mannered person I know. We all call him ‘the peacekeeper.’ He is not violent in any way.” 

“It was pervasively known that he was [a good actor], and that he also would terrorize the people that he had dated.”

MAJORS WAS BORN in Santa Barbara, California, but grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He’s been open in past interviews about a tumultuous adolescence: frequent moves, his dad leaving, butting heads with his stepdad, living in his car, and at least one suspension after getting into a series of scraps at school and once pulling a knife on classmates.

Acting became a refuge and arena to grapple with and redirect his emotions. “The anger came from the inability to articulate my sadness,” he explained to Texas Monthly. “Which is what acting really gave me: the ability to articulate, with language, with nuance, with emotion, what I’m feeling.” 

Majors pursued acting in college, graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem in 2012. He moved to New York and later enrolled in the Yale School of Drama in fall of 2013. Administrators only select around 15 students annually for the extremely selective, three-year program. 

Majors’ presence and the passion he brought, according to a classmate, challenged those in his year to match his fervor, making them all stronger actors. However, it also created a highly competitive atmosphere in what was regarded as a safe space. Growing up playing football, Majors likened being at Yale to that of a sports team, one former classmate says. “I heard him say, ‘You don’t choose your teammates. You don’t have to love everybody, but you do have to respect everybody,’” they recall. 

Nearly every alumni who spoke to Rolling Stone noted Majors’ obvious talent, dedication, drive, and the feeling he was bound for greater things. “[His] tremendous potential as an individual … combined with his focus and a hard work ethic was something that I expected was going to take him very far,” one former schoolmate says, further describing Majors as “poised” and “kind.”

“There’s obviously hard-working intensity, and then there’s fear-based intensity,” explains another former graduate whose time at Yale overlapped with Majors. “There’s this ‘Don’t step out of line with him. Just do what he says’ sort of thing. There’s an energy and a culture around him that you didn’t really cross the lines that he created.” 

That bluntness and intensity, one classmate says, could become too much, with Majors’ behavior allegedly manifesting into several confrontations and altercations with his peers while he was acting, according to six Yale alumni. “There was something else there,” the classmate says. “Things would slip out, and you knew it came from a personal place of truth. He was always working with something.”

“When you’re doing a physical scene — all of [the physical contact] has to be agreed upon,” says one schoolmate. “Nothing — especially in the pedagogy of that school — is fly off the handle.”

“His behavior was very problematic for his class,” another Yale alumni says. “A lot of people felt in physical danger around him and certainly in mentally precarious positions because of him.” Things reached a point where the Yale administration once sent an email “reminder about rehearsal etiquette and violence” one day after Majors was involved in a separate altercation with two other students, a former Yale student claims. (The two students did not reply to requests for comment.)

One of Majors’ schoolmates claims Majors struck him while goofing around during a short break during a rehearsal. The men had been playfully wrestling when the former schoolmate claims he pulled a fast, surprise move on Majors, which seemed to stun him. Majors responded by slapping him across the face. Taken aback, the schoolmate says that he confronted Majors on why he hit him, but Majors allegedly shrugged it off and acted like it wasn’t a big deal. “He can be very charismatic and really gentleman-like and sweet, but then he could also be really cold, scary, and violent,” the schoolmate says. “He was someone who would use his physicality to intimidate.” 

The incidents alarmed his peers enough that they voiced their concerns to the administration several times and told school officials that they felt unsafe around him. One complaint stemmed from Majors allegedly telling the women of his class “that they didn’t match the caliber or tenacity of the men.” However, no action was apparently taken. Former Yale graduates claim that in addition to the students’ complaints, professors and the administration were already aware of Majors’ disruptiveness in the classroom because instructors saw it firsthand. (Yale instructors who were present during the alleged incidents did not respond to requests for comment.) 

A spokesperson for the program declined to comment on any specific allegations about Majors’ behavior, but says that “Yale is committed to preserving the confidentiality and integrity of its complaint processes. This commitment helps encourage our community members to participate and is consistent with state and federal privacy laws. Accordingly, we do not comment on or even confirm the existence of specific complaints.” 

“He can be very charismatic and really gentleman-like and sweet, but then he could also be really cold, scary, and violent.”

AFTER GRADUATING FROM YALE, Majors’ career took off. In the span of a decade, he was nominated for an Emmy for his work on HBO’s Lovecraft Country, inked a deal with Marvel, and was on his way to heartthrob status after starring opposite Michael B. Jordan in Creed III. But his intimidating behavior, sources allege, continued. 

Hollywood has lauded Majors for his dedication to his roles, with the actor pulling from different Method-acting techniques to immerse himself into a character. He’s admitted to taking his commitment to the extreme, often staying in character throughout preparation and filming. Majors told Men’s Health that he once took a co-star out on a 1950s-style ice-cream date as part of his process and nearly “bit off” the head of a director who tried to tell Majors to scale back in one scene. “Whatever it takes for me, whatever it takes,” he said.  

But those who’ve worked with him say his Method acting went far beyond what was typical  — and created an atmosphere where some felt unable to do their jobs out of fear of Majors’ lashing out at them. On the set of Devotion — a 2022 film inspired by the life of Jesse Brown, the U.S. Navy’s first Black aviator — the costume department allegedly had issues with Majors, including an instance where he made costumers cry on set, according to a production source. 

“It started to become borderline abusive,” the production source says, claiming that a crew member eventually raised concerns to producers about his behavior. “It seemed like it was some kind of sick pleasure that he took out of — once those girls cried.… He did it to people who he could tell would be too afraid to stand up for themselves.” (Majors did not reply to specific queries about the allegation. In a statement, production company Black Label Media claimed there was no formal complaint filed against Majors, yet did not respond to questions on if there were concerns or issues raised about Majors’ behavior and treatment towards production members.)   

Majors’ upcoming movie Magazine Dreams was being discussed as his Oscar moment. But production sources also describe Majors behaving in a way that mirrored the experiences of his Yale schoolmates. Two production members claim that Majors reacted to them in a physical manner while on set, pushing one person away from him and moving in an intimidating manner toward the other while yelling, which led to a complaint. (Other production sources corroborated the separate incidents.)

A production source with knowledge of the situation acknowledged the complaint but claimed the incident didn’t involve physical contact or intimidation on Majors’ part. “Jonathan was immediately made aware of the complaint and he was mortified that he had made someone feel bad.” The production source adds that producers “feel strongly that we would have heard about any physical inappropriateness.”

The Elijah Bynum-directed film, which is slated to be released by Searchlight Pictures in December, follows a bodybuilder who is obsessed with becoming a champion but is overcome with self-resentment and simmering rage. Crew members say Majors was Method acting for the role and that before filming, producers gave them a heads-up to keep their distance from him. However, three sources claim that Majors still made some people uncomfortable and was verbally aggressive — both screaming and cursing at crew members. 

Majors in Magazine Dreams Searchlight Pictures

Although multiple sources claim at least one complaint was made to higher-ups, Majors also served as the film’s executive producer, and at least two say they felt Bynum wasn’t in a position to chastise Majors because of the star power he was bringing to the low-budget independent film. (Bynum did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.) 

“I’ve heard of different Method actors and how their behavior is, but none of them are violent or rude toward their crew,” one production member claims. “[Majors] was completely disrespectful and kind of violent toward everybody.… It put everyone on a stress level because we can’t do our job because we were afraid we were gonna get hurt.”

“At the end of the day, it’s just a job. You leave it at the door,” another crew member adds. “You don’t terrorize people with your character.” 

A third production member explains Majors’ character in the film “was deeply lonely, isolated, hurt, and angry.” “It’s a very hard headspace to be in as an actor, and to do that for months is an immense stress on the psyche,” they say. Still, they acknowledged that Majors could be short-tempered and lash out at crew members, but believed it was because he was focused on trying to stay in character. “Hopefully, he learns to pause for a second before he lashes out and can be honest about the stresses that a person takes on,” they add. 

Another production source says while Majors had a “dark intensity to him” on set, they chalked it up to him being in character, saying, “To me, I’ve never seen that energy on set be put towards crew — I saw it go right into the scenes which were really dark.”

“At the end of the day, it’s just a job. You leave it at the door. You don’t terrorize people with your character.” 

Majors’ career hangs in limbo as his case makes its way through criminal court on misdemeanor charges of assault, attempted assault, and aggravated harassment. 

The fallout from the accusations has been swift and substantial. Majors’ publicists at the Lede Company and his management at Entertainment 360 parted ways with the Creed III star shortly after his arrest, and he was subsequently dropped from a number of high-profile projects, including an ad for the U.S. Army. (Marvel has yet to address plans for its upcoming movie Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, with Majors expected to reprise his leading role as Kang the Conqueror. Earlier this month, Disney pushed its release to May 2026. A rep for Marvel did not reply to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.) 

According to officials in the criminal case stemming from his arrest in March, Majors inflicted minor injuries to the woman’s head and neck, and pushed her into the side of a car during a fight. The woman claimed Majors twisted her arm and finger behind her body “causing substantial pain.” “I further observed [Majors] strike me with his hand across my right ear causing substantial pain and a laceration behind my right ear,” according to her complaint. 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is withholding the name of the woman because she is considered a victim in the criminal investigation. In April, a judge granted the woman a full temporary order of protection against Majors, barring all contact between the parties. That same month, Variety reported that multiple women who claimed Majors abused them had come forward to cooperate with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. 

Majors’ legal team has gone on the offensive, filing a counter police complaint against the woman, claiming the woman had hit and scratched the actor. His attorneys have provided text exchanges between the former couple, and images reportedly of the actor’s injuries that his lawyer claims offers evidence the woman was the aggressor in the situation. (Doug Cohen, a spokesman for the DA’s office, declined to comment to Rolling Stone on if the NYPD had an active notice for probable cause to arrest the woman. He noted the “investigation and case into the assault charges against Mr. Majors remains ongoing.”) Majors’ team has also implied there is racial bias in the DA office’s investigation and claimed Majors is a victim of a “witch hunt.” 

In a statement, the woman’s attorney, Brad Edwards, tells Rolling Stone that his client “was frightened to death of Mr. Majors. I think now it should be obvious to everyone why. Using the media to gaslight is not a strategy that should garner him much long term sympathy … Out of respect for the criminal process, and the prosecuting attorneys that will make decisions based on evidence, we do not intend to respond to rumors and will instead allow the criminal process to work without the sideshow that Mr. Majors and his team are trying to create.”

While Majors faces criminal charges, those who knew him have grappled with his dichotomous behavior while at a storied institution where excellence reigns and on sets where his skills are recognized at the sacrifice of many who have dealt with his volatile behavior. 

Those who knew the women who were allegedly abused acknowledge that many people find Majors “magnetic and charming,” but they claim it’s all a facade supported by his talent. “He’s an incredible manipulator,” one source says. “He’s a master at knowing what people want to see.”