Filmmaker Matthew Newton has decided he’ll no longer direct Jessica Chastain in the movie Eve in light of an online backlash to his alleged history of assault.
“Yesterday I notified Jessica Chastain and the other producers on the film Eve that I will be stepping down as director,” Newton said in a statement. “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,” the director, who suffers from bipolar disorder, continued. “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.”
Newton plead guilty in 2007 to physically assaulting his then-girlfriend, actress Brooke Satchwell. In 2010, Jessica Jones’ Rachael Taylor, then Newton’s fiancée, claimed she suffered “two unprovoked assaults” from Newton.
Newton, who previously directed Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts in Who We Are Now, wrote the script for Eve, for which Chastain will star and produce for Voltage Pictures.
After news of the project came to light earlier this month, people on social media took issue with the fact that the Oscar nominee, a proponent of Time’s Up and #MeToo, would agree to work with Newton. A Care2 Petition was even launched.
A rep for Chastain did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. Speaking with The Feed this past February, she did say, “I’ve always made choices in all the work that I’ve done to make sure that, on any film set, I’m working with people where there isn’t a question about whether or not abuse has taken place. At some point recently, I wasn’t aware that there was a producer on a film that there had been allegations against and I went and I talked to the studio. It’s very, very important to me that I practice what I preach and my actions follow my words.”