Matthew Newton has stepped down as the director of the upcoming Jessica Chastain-starring film Eve after there was a backlash relating to his history of violence.

The Australian director, who wrote the script for the action film, was announced as the director last week with Chastain saying he was "wonderfully adept at crafting complex and relatable characters". However the news of his hiring sparked a barrage of criticism online.

Chastain, who has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, was accused of hypocrisy for working with Newton on the project which she is co-producing.

Newton has a history of alleged assault and domestic violence in Australia, dating back to 2007 when he pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend, Brooke Satchwell. In 2010, his then-fiancée Rachael Taylor took out an apprehended violence order against him. He has also been arrested for assaulting a taxi driver and a hotel clerk.

Following the online backlash, Newton released a statement detailing his decision to exit the film.

"Yesterday I notified Jessica Chastain and the other producers on the film Eve that I will be stepping down as director," the statement read.

"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."

The filmmaker, who suffers from bipolar disorder, continued: "Over the past eight years I have been working extensively with healthcare professionals to help me overcome my addiction and mental health illness.

"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."

Oscar-nominated star Chastain has yet to comment on Newton's decision.

In an interview with The Feed earlier this year, Chastain spoke about ensuring she doesn’t work with abusers on her film sets.

"I’ve always made choices, in all the work that I’ve done, to make sure that on any film set that I’m working with people that there isn’t a question about whether or not abuse has taken place," she said.

"It’s very important to me that I practice what I preach, and that my actions follow my words."