“Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story?” she tweeted on Thursday, July 29, starting a lengthy thread about her opinions on the film. “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.”
The 34-year-old writer made headlines after she was wrongfully convicted of murdering a fellow exchange student in Italy in 2007. She was acquitted eight years later.
In the Tom McCarthy-directed film, which hit theaters on Friday, July 30, Damon, 50, plays determined father Bill Baker, who flies to France to help his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) after she’s accused of killing a friend. The similarities between the movie and Knox’s experience aren’t hard to see — but she asserted on Thursday that she wasn’t “affiliated with” the production in any way.
“Everyone else in that ‘saga’ had more influence over events than I did,” she wrote, reflecting on how the narrative surrounding her classmate’s death quickly turned the spotlight on her instead. “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. … Somehow it was my fault that the police and media focused on me at Meredith’s expense.”
Damon’s latest project “is by no means the first thing to rip off my story without my consent at the expense of my reputation,” Knox claimed, noting that she’d be willing to discuss her story in more detail with McCarthy, 55, who name-dropped her in a recent Vanity Fair interview.
“There were so many characters around the case that I really followed pretty closely,” the filmmaker told the outlet. “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.”
While fleshing out the story lines, McCarthy wanted to “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.” However, Knox isn’t certain he was successful.
“That story, my story, is not about an American woman studying abroad ‘involved in some kind of sensational crime.’ It’s about an American woman NOT involved in a sensational crime, and yet wrongfully convicted,” she tweeted on Thursday. “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. You’re not leaving the Amanda Knox case behind very well if every single review mentions me. … 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.”
Knox noted she “never asked to be a public person,” but was thrown into the spotlight after experiencing a major tragedy. She gave more clarity about what happened abroad in Netflix’s 2015 documentary, Amanda Knox, and still believes “it matters what you call a thing,” especially when reputations are at stake.
“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,” she concluded. “It’s an uphill battle. I probably won’t succeed. But I’ve been here before. I know what it’s like facing impossible odds.”
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Neither Damon nor McCarthy have publicly addressed Knox’s comments, but before Stillwater premiered, the Martian star wanted audiences to approach the story with an open mind.
“It’s a very interesting journey Bill goes on, and where he ends up at the end, he is a very different person than he was at the beginning of the movie,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I hope people just give themselves away to the character and go on the ride with him.”