In a lengthy multi-part letter on his Instagram account, filmmaker Xavier Dolan has revealed that he has had to cut Jessica Chastain’s role entirely out of his new film “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” which marks his first English-language effort.
Set initially in the 1990s, the story stars Kit Harington as late 20-something heartthrob John Donovan on an American teen drama who finds himself getting into a pen pal relationship with a young British kid (Jacob Tremblay) living with a single mother (Natalie Portman) who aspires to be an actor.
Chastain played a gossip magazine’s editor-in-chief who exposes the relationship in a way that its wildly misinterpreted and destroys the heartthrob’s career and ultimately life. Over a decade later, when the heartthrob dies, the grown-up pre-teen reflects on events.
The “Mommy,” “Laurence Anyways” and “Tom at the Farm” helmer says the film’s first cut came in at around four hours and in the process of ‘finding’ the film in the editing room cutting that down, Chastain’s role of essentially a ‘villain’ had to go.
“What you need to hear from me is Jessica Chastain’s character, after what was a long period of reflection, had to be cut from the film. It was an extremely difficult decision to make. I feel, toward Jessica, a 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.
This ‘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. There is, in this film, a conversation on show business, yes, but it was in the family dynamics – and, once again, in mothers and sons relationships – that the heart of this film resided.”
Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandie Newton and Michael Gambon co-star in the film which is expected to be released later this year.