Jessica Chastain Cut from Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

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Jessica Chastain Cut from Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

It was announced via Instagram last night that Xavier Dolan has decided to cut Jessica Chastain from his forthcoming feature The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.

Dolan explains in his post that the first cut of the film ran over four hours in length, so serious edits had to be made. He writes, “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 … The decision was editorial and narrative in that it had nothing to do with a performance, and everything to do with a character, and the compatibility of the storyline.” He continued to explain how Chastain’s villainous character served a more comedic purpose and in the end, did not fit with the overall story’s focus on childhood and dreams.

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan has been a major mystery since its announcement at Cannes back in 2014. The only news we ever received was cast notifications and a few posters were unveiled, including the one below of Chastain.


Now, we know the film is complete and hopefully will be released sometime in the near future before Dolan begins work on his next project. Donovan stars Kit Harrington as an American TV star who strikes up a pen pal relationship with a very young actor to be played by Room’s Jacob Tremblay. The relationship takes a negative turn when the public finds out and assumes the worst, ultimately sending Harrington’s Donovan into a nightmare. The movie is also set during two time periods, per THR, one that focuses on the relationship and the other that leaps ten years into the future when the young actor recollects his relationship with his past idol, John F. Donovan, in an interview. The film also stars Natalie Portman as the young actor’s mom, along with Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon and Thandie Newton.

Dolan achieved international recognition with his 2009 debut feature I Killed My Mother that premiered at Cannes. He was twenty. His 2014 Cannes film Mommy took home the Jury prize and then two years later his film It’s Only the End of the World, starring Marion Cotillard, took home the second place prize at the festival. Dolan reportedly just started working on his next film, titled Matt and Max, which is said to be inspired by Dolan’s recent acting endeavors in Boy Erased. Joel Edgerton’s forthcoming Boy Erased stars Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges and Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Chastain has been a huge supporter of Dolan’s work and this collaboration was definitely a thing many fans were looking forward to. The actress wrote on Instagram, “Darlings there’s some #johnfdonovan news. Don’t worry, I was informed in advance of this letter. This has been handled with the upmost respect and love.” Dolan added, “She is respected by her peers, and beloved by her 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.”

The French-Canadian director took to Instagram to share the news and Jessica Chastain responded to let fans know there are no hard feelings. See Chastain’s post below, including Dolan’s initial post and her response.

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