Jessica Chastain‘s “villain” role from the Xavier Dolan‘s upcoming film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan has been unexpectedly cut.
The director took to Instagram on explain his decision, stressing that it had nothing to do with Chastain’s performance and everything to do with her character’s place in the overarching story.
“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 wrote.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make. I feel, toward Jessica, a very sincere love, and a great admiration. The decision was editorial and narrative, in that it has nothing to do with a performance, and everything to do with a character, and the compatibility of its storyline.
“The ‘villain’ subplot, albeit funny and entertaining, didn’t feel like it belonged to the rest of the story, which ended up not being on heroes or their nemesis, but rather on childhood, and its dreams.”
In his post, he revealed that the original cut of the film had been well over four hours long, and praised Chastain as both an actress and an activist.
“Jessica has, since the very beginning, defended this project, and defended me on so many occasions. She is a terrific actress, a politically engaged artist, what is more, who relentlessly champions the causes she believes in. She is respected by her peers and beloved by the public.
“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.
“I wanted you to find this out through me, and no one else.”
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan – Dolan’s first English language film – stars Kit Harington as the titular character, an American TV star exposed by a tabloid for having a correspondence with an 11-year-old British boy, Rupert Turner (Jacob Tremblay).
It also stars Natalie Portman, Bella Thorne, Thandie Newton, Kathy Bates, Michael Gambon, Ben Schnetzer, Jared Keeso and Sarah Gadon, and at one point, there was even talks of Adele coming in to make a cameo.
When a fan asked Dolan on Twitter if he would eventually also release the four-hour version, he replied: “I wold love to include certain scenes on the DVD yes!!!” So, there’s still hope.
Chastain has not yet responded publicly to the news, but she did like Dolan’s original post. That’s… something?
UPDATE: Chastain has responded with her usual class and grace, assuring fans (and Dolan himself) that she’s not hurt my this decision.
“This has been handled with the utmost respect and love,” she said. “Xavier Dolan, I am always impressed with your true commitment to telling a story. To be an artist in each moment, you move beyond past ideas and expectations. I love you dearly and look forward to our future collaborations in life and art.”