Majors trial: actor demanded ‘Michelle Obama’ behavior, ex-girlfriend testifies

<span>Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP</span>
Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Jonathan Majors’s ex-girlfriend detailed a tumultuous and toxic relationship at his assault trial in New York on Tuesday, where she is expected to detail how he allegedly assaulted her.

Prosecutors accused the Creed III and Marvel star of assaulting Grace Jabbari in March after she saw a text message from another woman on his phone. Majors faces three charges of misdemeanor assault, aggravated assault and harassment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Related: Jonathan Majors trial begins for assault charges over alleged domestic dispute

During her testimony, Jabbari, a 30-year-old actor and professional dancer, frequently broke down in tears while detailing the highs and lows of their two-year relationship, according to Variety.

Majors, 34, sat at the defense table with a Bible and his current girlfriend, the actor Meagan Good, who has attended all trial proceedings to date.

On 25 March, Jabbari told the jury, the couple were riding back to Manhattan from a dinner already marred by a heated argument over Majors’ recent outbursts. During the drive, Jabbari was leaning on his shoulder when he received a “romantic” text message sent by a woman named Cleopatra.

After she snatched the phone out of his hands, she said Majors twisted her arm behind her back in a position that left her in “excruciating” pain. “Next I felt a really hard blow across my head,” she said.

“He’s very strong. I couldn’t move,” Jabbari continued. “It feels very loud when you’re hit in the head and just shocking.”

Majors eventually pried the phone from her hands and took off through the streets of Lower Manhattan as Jabbari chased him, according to a video compilation taken from various surveillance cameras that was shown to jurors.

Jabbari, who is a resident of the UK, described how she met the acclaimed actor in August 2021 on the set of Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, in which Majors plays the arch-villain Kang the Conqueror and Jabbari worked as a movement coach. Jabbari called the early stages of their relationship “amazing” and the actor as “really kind and loving”.

The first time he was angry with her, she recalled, was in December 2021, when she was going to meet the actor’s dogs. She alleged that Majors berated her for bringing up an ex-boyfriend’s dog. “It was the first time I felt scared of him,” she said. “I knew to never mention my ex again or anyone I had dated before.”

Jabbari also described another incident in June 2022 when Majors allegedly became angry with her after she told him she would have limited cell phone service at the Glastonbury music festival in England, which she was attending with friends. “He sent me a ton of messages saying I shouldn’t be there and how dare I go,” she said.

Jabbari said that she felt guilty about upsetting Majors and left the festival early, but could not reunite with him because he allegedly refused to return her texts or calls. “I felt regretful I had upset him in that way,” she said. “He wasn’t talking to me. I was saying everything I knew that would turn him around when he’s in these moods.”

Majors was working on the indie drama Magazine Dreams, in which he plays a psychologically vulnerable body builder, during this time, she noted, and Majors was “quite stressed” about the pressure of producing and acting in the film.

“Immediately after, it was quite nice again,” Jabbari said of their relationship. “He was apologetic and thanked me for my patience with him.”

Prosecutors played audio recorded by Jabbari during an argument in September, in which Majors demanded that she behave like Michelle Obama or Coretta Scott King. “I’m a great man. A great man. I do great things for my culture and for the world,” Majors says in the recording. “The woman that supports me needs to be a great woman.”

According to Jabbari, Majors pressured her to keep quiet about rough patches in their relationship, telling her: “I want to marry you, but this will ruin it if you tell anyone.”

Jabbari said she promised to not tell anyone about his anger. “I felt like I had to keep a lot of secrets from everyone,” she said. “I felt very isolated. It was confusing. I felt scared of him but quite dependent on him.” Their relationship continued because “I loved him,” she told the jurors.

Jabbari also alleged that Majors would threaten suicide after bouts of anger with her. “I pleaded with him [so that] he wouldn’t do that. He would say: ‘It’s in place. It’s in motion.’ I’d say: ‘You can’t do that. What about your mother? What about your daughter?’” she told the jury. “I would intend to make him feel safe and loved and secure. And he would receive that.”

She later added: “I didn’t want him to kill himself, so I’d tell him I loved him.”

The behavior took its toll on their relationship and made her feel isolated, she added. “I just felt like I was existing in his world,” she said. “I had low self-esteem. I lost a lot of weight. I felt incompetent and dependent on him. He was the only one who knew what went on.”

Though she said she kept her experiences from her family, she did confide in Majors’ former manager Priya Satiani. “She sees all sides of him, like I did,” Jabbari told jurors, noting that she trusted Satiani after witnessing how Majors talked to her. “I didn’t like it, so I’d offer her support behind his back,” she said.

According to Jabbari, Majors temporarily cut off communication with his girlfriend when he found out about the private conversations between her and his manager. “I felt bad,” she said. “I thought maybe I shouldn’t have told her. I reassured him I wouldn’t tell anyone else.”

Jabbari also addressed a series of videos – likely to be a subject of cross-examination by Majors’ lawyers – that showed her partying in a Manhattan nightclub hours after the alleged assault.

Jabbari told the jury she had met a group of “generous” strangers on a corner after chasing Majors out of the vehicle following the attack.

“The worst thing in my head would’ve been to go back to the empty apartment we shared in that moment,” Jabbari said. Acknowledging that she can be seen on videos smiling, dancing, and taking shots with the new friends, she added: “I was having the nicest time I could’ve had within the situation.”

Jabbari is expected to return to the stand on Wednesday. If convicted, Majors faces up to a year in prison.

Associated Press contributed to this report.