Matthew Newton has exited as director of the Jessica Chastain-starring Eve, a character-driven action movie that the Aussie also wrote. Chastain announced the film August 1 which she is producing via her Freckle Films along with Voltage Pictures.
The news of Newton’s hire caused a backlash against the project and Chastain, a strong voice in the current #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up campaign. Newton had pleaded guilty in his home country to assaulting his girlfriend in 2007.
Since Eve was announced, fans have been calling for Chastain to drop Newton, who most recently directed Who We Are Now, starring Julianne Nicholson, Emma Roberts and Zachary Quinto, which premiered at last year’s Toronto Film Festival.
Newton released a statement today about leaving the project, which Deadline hears was his decision:
“Yesterday I notified Jessica Chastain and the other producers on the film EVE that I will be stepping down as director. Since the announcement of this film, the responses, which are powerful and important, have not fallen on deaf ears. I am profoundly aware that I have a responsibility to lead where I have failed in the past. I can never undo the harm that I’ve caused the people I’ve cared about and I carry that shame and responsibility with me every day. Over the past eight years I have been working extensively with healthcare professionals to help me overcome my addiction and mental health illness. For the past six years I have lived a quiet and sober life. All I can do now is try to be a living amends and hopefully contribute to the positive change occurring in our industry.”
Eve is being produced by Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam alongside Chastain and her Freckle Films partner Kelly Carmichael. Newton had also been set to produce. Jonathan Deckter will serve as executive producer, with Babacar Diene serving as co-producer.
At the time the film was announced, Chastain and Carmichael said: “Matthew is wonderfully adept at crafting complex and relatable characters. We’ve been fans of his work and are so thrilled to be partnering with him and Voltage on Eve.” Added Chartier: “Matt Newton wrote a wonderful new character in Eve and Jessica Chastain will once again deliver an amazing performance.”
Voltage will fully finance Eve and also handle international sales and co-rep domestic with CAA.