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Director Matthew Newton Drops Out of Jessica Chastain Movie After Backlash Over His History of Abuse

Chastain announced at the start of the month she would star in and produce "Eve," which Newton was set to direct from his own script.

Matthew Newton and Jessica Chastain

Matthew Newton and Jessica Chastain

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Facing public backlash over a history of abusive behavior toward girlfriends, filmmaker Matthew Newton has exited his upcoming film “Eve,” in which Jessica Chastain was set to star and produce.

Read More: Jessica Chastain: ‘I Have Felt So Bad’ That Some Women ‘Feel Excluded’ From Time’s Up

Newton, whose credits include “From Nowhere” and “Who We Are Now,” has a history of multiple arrests. The filmmaker was charged in 2007 with stalking and causing bodily harm to his then-girlfriend, reportedly punching her in the head and attempting to gouge her eyes. Newton pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, common assault, but it was overturned after his psychiatrist sent a letter detailing his battle with mental illness. The director reportedly punched another girlfriend in August 2010 in the lobby of a Rome hotel room, causing her to suffer a concussion and a sprained jaw.

In a statement made to IndieWire earlier this year, Newton admitted wrongdoing and expressed regrets, claiming he had problems with substance and alcohol abuse at the time of the incidents. The director issued a new statement about his past while announcing he was removing himself from directing “Eve.”

“Since the announcement of this film, the responses, which are powerful and important, have not fallen on deaf ears,” Newton said (via The Wrap). “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 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 premiered “Who We Are Now” at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. Festival head Janet Pierson told IndieWire the film was a “reflection of the changes [Newton] has made in his life,” which is one of the reasons she invited Newton to the festival despite his history of abuse.

“‘Who We Are Now’ contemplates the path to redemption and how one learns from their mistakes and makes amends,” Pierson said at the time. “This feels like an essential conversation to have right now.”

IndieWire has reached out to Chastain for further comment.

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