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Amanda Knox accuses Matt Damon, Tom McCarthy’s ‘Stillwater’ of profiting off her name

Amanda Knox points while speaking at a lectern
Amanda Knox speaks at the University of Modena, Italy, in 2019.
(Antonio Calanni / Associated Press)

Amanda Knox, the former American college student who was acquitted twice in Italy over the slaying of her roommate, is not happy about the latest Hollywood take on the sensational story that garnered worldwide attention.

She’s taking aim at Tom McCarthy’s new dramatic thriller “Stillwater” — starring Matt Damon, Camille Cottin and Abigail Breslin — that is loosely based on the Italian murder case.

In a lengthy thread posted to Twitter and Medium on Thursday, the self-described “exoneree” wrote at those who “continue to profit” from her name, face and story without her consent, and commented more broadly on how power dynamics shape a story.

Knox has previously accused the media of building a false story around her.

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The France-set “Stillwater,” which opened Friday, was co-written by McCarthy. The film is an exploration of the stereotype of the “ugly American” as told through a fictional twist on the 2007 murder case, commonly referred to as the “Amanda Knox saga.”

It’s that ubiquitous phrasing with Knox’s name that irked her.

“This new film by director Tom McCarthy, starring Matt Damon, is ‘loosely based’ or ‘directly inspired by’ the ‘Amanda Knox saga,’ as Vanity Fair put it in a for-profit article promoting a for-profit film, neither of which I am affiliated with,” she tweeted Thursday.

“I want to pause right here on that phrase: ‘the Amanda Knox saga.’ What does that refer to? Does it refer to anything I did? No,” she added. “It refers to the events that resulted from the murder of Meredith Kercher by a burglar named Rudy Guede.’”

With an empathetic eye and cross-cultural cast led by Matt Damon and Camille Cottin, ‘Stillwater’ director Tom McCarthy tried to upend expectations for his dramatic thriller.

The 34-year-old public speaker said the “saga” should refer to “the shoddy police work, prosecutorial tunnel vision, and refusal to admit their mistakes” that led Italian authorities to wrongfully convict her twice. (She was finally acquitted in 2011 — and then again in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.)

“In those four years of wrongful imprisonment and 8 years of trial, I had near-zero agency,” she wrote. “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.”

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Because she was the focus, Knox said that many complained that her slain roommate, Meredith Kercher, “had been forgotten” and blamed her for that too.

“The result of this is that 15 years later, my name is the name associated with this tragic series of events, of which I had zero impact on. Meredith’s name is often left out, as is Rudy Guede’s.”

“Stillwater” is the latest project centering on the saga. Knox cited Lifetime’s “terrible” 2011 movie starring Hayden Panettiere over which she sued the network and the 2019 Fox legal drama “Proven Innocent.” She was also the subject of the 2016 documentary “Amanda Knox,” which gave her and others involved in the case the chance to unburden themselves at length about their roles in the story.

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In her Thursday statement, she went on to pick apart “Stillwater,” which she believes “erased the corruption and ineptitude of authorities.

“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.

“And with Matt Damon’s star power, both are sure to profit handsomely off of this fictionalization of ‘the Amanda Knox saga’ that is sure to leave plenty of viewers wondering, ‘Maybe the real-life Amanda was involved somehow.’”

Carrying a backpack and wearing a plaid shirt and ballcap, Matt Damon walks along a crowded street.
Matt Damon in the movie “Stillwater.”
(Jessica Forde / Focus Features)
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She said that she understands that McCarthy and Damon “have no moral obligation” to consult her “when profiting by telling a story that distorts my reputation in negative ways.”

She also invited them to be interviewed on her podcast, “Labyrinths.”

“I bet we could have a fascinating conversation about identity, and public perception, and who should get to exploit a name, face, and story that has entered the public imagination,” she said.

Tom McCarthy’s new drama follows an Oklahoma oil worker to France as he tries to overturn his daughter’s murder conviction.

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“I never asked to become a public person. The Italian authorities and global media made that choice for me. And when I was acquitted and freed, the media and the public wouldn’t allow me to become a private citizen ever again.”

Reps for McCarthy and Damon did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment Friday.

Times staff writer Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.


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