Amanda Knox Accuses Matt Damon's Movie Stillwater of Profiting Off Her Trauma 'Without' Her 'Consent'
Netflix/Kobal/Shutterstock; Jessica Forde/Focus Features
Amanda Knox is speaking out against Matt Damon's latest film Stillwater, which she says cashes in on her real-life trauma while distorting public perception of her character and reputation.
In the new movie, Damon, 50, plays an Oklahoma construction worker named Bill whose estranged daughter Allison (played by Abigail Breslin) is charged and convicted with the murder of her ex-girlfriend while in France. Damon's character fights to get the ruling overturned in a lengthy journey, befriending a single mom and her daughter along the way (Camille Cottin and newcomer Lilou Siauvaud, respectively).
Fourteen years ago, Knox was wrongfully convicted and then exonerated for the 2007 murder of roommate Meredith Kercher when she was a 20-year-old American student studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. Prosecutors alleged Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito committed the crime during a sex game run amok, though there was no DNA evidence linking them to the crime scene and other hard evidence was lacking.
Knox and Sollecito were both convicted in the murder, with prosecutors alleging the crime had taken place during a sex game run amok, though hard evidence against the young couple was scant. In 2011, Knox and Sollecito were freed after four years in prison after an appeals court acquitted them. However, the pair were convicted again in absentia in 2013, before being acquitted again in 2015.
Knox, now 34, has since remained open about the difficulties of adjusting back to daily life following the highly publicized case that forever robbed her of anonymity. Rudy Guede, a drifter whose DNA was found at the scene, was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a separate trial. He was released early last year.
Speaking out, Knox tweeted Thursday about what it was like to see a story "loosely based" on her own life get the Hollywood treatment without her consent.
"Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER," she wrote.
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Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER.
/ a thread
— Amanda Knox (@amandaknox) July 29, 2021
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Knox recalled having "near-zero agency" during her time in prison and during the years-long trial: "Everyone else in that 'saga' had more influence over events than I did. The erroneous focus on me by the authorities led to an erroneous focus on me by the press, which shaped how I was viewed. In prison, I had no control over my public image, no voice in my story."
She explained that Stillwater "is by no means the first thing to rip off my story without my consent at the expense of my reputation."
Writer/director Tom McCarthy told Vanity Fair and other outlets while promoting the film, in theaters now, that he was inspired by Knox's case. McCarthy, 55, won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 2015's true-story film Spotlight.
"There were so many characters around the case that I really followed pretty closely. But really the first thing that I took away from it was, what would that be like as an American student to go over [to Europe] for what should be one of the most exciting moments in a young-adult life and to find yourself in that tragedy? There were just so many layers to that story that kept anyone who was following pretty riveted. … What's the story around the story?"
With his co-writers, McCarthy said, "We decided, 'Hey, let's leave the Amanda Knox case behind,' but let me take this piece of the story — an American woman studying abroad involved in some kind of sensational crime and she ends up in jail — and fictionalize everything around it."
Knox said the filmmakers did not "ask me how it felt to be in my shoes," saying that "I have a lot to say about that, & would have told McCarthy...if he'd ever reached out."
"And if you're going to 'leave the Amanda Knox case behind,' and 'fictionalize everything around it,' maybe don't use my name to promote it," she added. "You're not leaving the Amanda Knox case behind very well if every single review mentions me."
Knox acknowledged that the team behind Stillwater "have no obligation to approach me" in the making of the movie and she can "mostly forgive" them. She said, however, she has a problem with the "fictionalized version of me" being "just the tabloid conspiracy guiltier version of me" in the movie.
"By fictionalizing away my innocence, my total lack of involvement, by erasing the role of the authorities in my wrongful conviction, McCarthy reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person," she wrote, later inviting Damon and McCarthy to come on her podcast Labyrinths to discuss the situation.
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty
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Knox explained that she "never asked to become a public person" and "I have not been allowed to return to the relative anonymity I had before Perugia. My only option is to sit idly by while others continue to distort my character, or fight to restore my good reputation that was wrongfully destroyed."
"It's an uphill battle. I probably won't succeed," she concluded. "But I've been here before. I know what it's like facing impossible odds."
McCarthy recently told the O.C. Register that Stillwater is "obviously a very different scenario" than Knox's experience, though he reiterated that he "was riveted by that case and there was inspiration there, but if you put too much emphasis on that it's not accurate."
A rep for McCarthy did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about Knox's Thursday statements.
At the New York City premiere of Stillwater earlier this week Damon told PEOPLE of his character, "It's a pretty heavy role and it's really complex, and I love that. It's one of the best roles that I've ever been offered and given a chance to play, and I'm just really grateful to [director] Tom [McCarthy] for thinking of me for it. The guy goes on quite a journey.
"And the movie, it's much more of a drama than a thriller, and anybody who comes sees it should know that and just go with the character and go on the ride he goes on," he said. "That would be my only advice."