Newton, who suffers from bipolar disorder, made the announcement on Friday morning.
“Yesterday I notified Jessica Chastain and the other producers on the film ‘Eve’ that I will be stepping down as director,” he 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,” he added. “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 announced earlier this month that she would star in and produce, through her Freckle Films production company and Voltage Pictures, the character-driven action movie “Eve.” Newton, who wrote the script, was also named director.
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Newton most recently helmed “Who We Are Now,” starring Julianne Nicholson, Emma Roberts, and Zachary Quinto, which FilmRise picked up after it premiered last year at the Toronto Film Festival.
“Eve” is produced by Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam alongside Chastain and her Freckle Films partner Kelly Carmichael. Newton had also been set to produce.
At the time the film was announced, Chastain and Carmichael said in a statement, “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.'”
Chastain has been a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement. Voltage said Friday that it had no comment about Newton’s decision. Chastain’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Newton pleaded guilty in 2007 to physically assaulting his then-girlfriend, actress Brooke Satchwell. In 2010, Newton’s fiancee Rachael Taylor accused him of two “unprovoked assaults” and was granted a two-year domestic violence order against him.