Xavier Dolan cuts Jessica Chastain from The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan says he has cut actress Jessica Chastain from his upcoming movie The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.

Dolan said in an Instagram post on Sunday evening that he had to rework the first cut of his film — his English-language debut — which was more than four hours long.

“What you need to hear from me is that Jessica Chastain’s character, after what was a long period of reflection, had to be cut from the film,” he said, calling it a “difficult” decision that had nothing to do with her performance. Dolan, who has been editing the film since May, said that Chastain’s villainous character did not fit with rest of the story.

John F. Donovan

Dolan, centre, appears with Chastain and Kit Harington on the set of The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. (Seville Pictures)

“All sorts of developments unfold during the shooting of a film, as we know,” Dolan wrote.

“Often, it isn’t before late into production that it finds its tone, when it isn’t even later, in the editing suite.” Dolan said in this case, a decision was made in the suite.

He expressed disappointment in the move, noting that Chastain has defended the project and Dolan on many occasions. The Montreal director added he wanted the news of the cut to come directly from him.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t get to reveal the exciting things we crafted together on this one adventure, but life is long, and missed opportunities almost always bode of even greater future collaborations,” Dolan wrote.


Jessica Chastain, seen at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, has defended the project and Dolan on many occasions. (Philip Faraone/Getty Images)

Chastain also posted a statement on Instagram saying she had heard in advance about her character being cut and the process was “handled with the utmost respect and love.” 

“I am always impressed with your true commitment to telling a story,” Chastain wrote in her statement, addressing Dolan.

Dolan said he’s “beyond happy” with the film and eager to share it with fans. He didn’t mention a release date, but said “the sooner, the better.”

The film has a star-studded cast including Natalie Portman, Kit Harington and Susan Sarandon.


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