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After mounting backlash over a history of alleged assault, Matthew Newton has dropped out as writer and director of the upcoming Jessica Chastain movie Eve.
“Yesterday I notified Jessica Chastain and the other producers on the film Eve that I will be stepping down as director,” Newton said Friday 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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Chastain is set to star in and produce Eve, an action film that has been described as a character study, from Voltage Pictures and Chastain’s banner Freckle Films. Newton, who wrote the script, was tapped to direct.
The Australian filmmaker, however, has been accused of assault and domestic violence dating back to 2007, when he pleaded guilty to physically assaulting his then-girlfriend, actress Brooke Satchwell. In 2010, Newton’s then-fiancee Rachael Taylor accused him of “two unprovoked assaults” and was granted a two-year domestic violence order against him, an order he later breached.
Chastain, a leading voice in the Time’s Up movement, was called to action in a Care2 petition that asked for her to drop Newton from the film. “#TimesUp for rich and powerful men being absolved of horrific abuse against women,” read the petition.
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