Matthew Newton has released a statement confirming his departure from the film Eve, which he was set to co-produce with Jessica Chastain.
Earlier today (10 Aug), Newton released a statement which read: “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.”
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.”
Newton was first accused of assault in 2007 by his ex-girlfriend Brooke Satchell. Despite being initially convicted, this was overturned after Newton’s psychiatrist (he has bipolar disorder) said he was unlikely to re-offend.
In 2010, though, Newton was accused of domestic abuse by his then-fiance Rachael Taylor, who said he punched her in the face and successfully gained a restraining order against him, which he has reportedly violated several times.
Chastain previously said of working with Newton: “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.”
Since then, though, the actress (who was planning on co-producing Eve alongside Newton, through her Freckle Films production company) has come under heavy fire on social media for choosing to work with the director.
One Twitter user said: “This is extraordinarily disappointing on @jes_chastain’s part. Do actors not even skim the Wikipedia pages of directors they agree to work with?”
Another agreed: “Matthew Newton has been convicted of assaulting multiple ex-girlfriends. Domestic violence is inexcusable. Jessica Chastain should know better than to support an abusive man like this.”
It is also worth noting that Chastain, who is known for being an influential and active voice in the Time’s Up movement, was personally to action in a Care2 petition that asked for her to drop Newton from the film.
The petition, entitled ’#TimesUp Activist Jessica Chastain Hires Domestic Abuser to Direct New Film’, reads: “Actor Jessica Chastain has been a leading voice for the Time’s Up campaign and an active proponent for gender equality in the film industry.
“In 2016, Chastain launched Freckle Films, an all-female production company. She’s called out “disturbing” representations of women in film. And in an interview following Harvey Weinstein’s ouster from Hollywood, she said that abuse allegations are a factor she considers when choosing people to work with.
“So why then did Jessica Chastain hire known-abuser Matthew Newton to direct Eve, a new film Chastain will produce and star in?”
Chastain has yet to comment on Newton’s decision to leave the project.