In an essay Thursday, Amanda Knox called out the upcoming Matt Damon-led crime drama “Stillwater” — a fictional story similar to Knox’s own harrowing experience being wrongly convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher, and her six-year-long legal battel to prove her innocence — for using her life story as inspiration without her consent and in a way she argues is a slander.
Knox then used the matter as a jumping off point for a wide ranging discussion of sexism, erasure of victims from their own stories, and the often abusive and unfair treatment she’s received in the press and popular culture since she was first became a public figure following her arrest.
The 34-year-old lambasted the film and its director Tom McCarthy in a detailed Twitter thread and Medium article published Thursday afternoon, questioning why her unfortunate experience as the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice overseas is still fodder for Hollywood more than a decade later.
Focus Features, which produced “Stillwater,” declined to comment. Knox did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
“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,” Knox wrote. “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. It refers to the events that resulted from the murder of Meredith Kercher by a burglar named Rudy Guede.”
Knox continued, “in those four years of wrongful imprisonment and 8 years of trial, I had near-zero agency. Everyone else in that ‘saga’ had more influence over the course of events than I did. The erroneous focus on me by the Italian authorities led to an erroneous focus on me by the press, which shaped how I was presented to the world. In prison, I had no control over my public image, no voice in my story.”
McCarthy told Vanity Fair his goal with “Stillwater” was 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.”
In a separate interview with Yahoo, McCarthy said, “all I wanted was that bit of the story – American woman, student rather even, in jail for a crime she may have or may not have committed. Beyond that, there is not really much comparison that I know of to the Amanda Knox story.”
To be clear, there is no ambiguity about Knox’s case. She did not commit the crime she was falsely accused of.
Knox also called out Deadline reviewer Pete Hammond directly in her note; she was angry that Hammond’s review of “Stillwater” described her as “the American convicted in an Italian court of murdering her roommate.” As Knox noted, she was convicted but it is inaccurate to describe her case that way, since she didn’t kill Kercher and was exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2013.
“Don’t do what Pete Hammond did when reviewing Stillwater for Deadline, referring to me as a convicted murderer while conveniently leaving out my acquittal. I asked him to correct it. No response,” Knox said.
Knox added that “Stillwater” is “by no means the first thing to rip off my story without my consent at the expense of my reputation,” and pleaded with McCarthy and other directors to stop using her name as the impetus for telling grisly true-crime stories centered around women. “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,” Knox said. “You’re not leaving the Amanda Knox case behind very well if every single review mentions me. You’re not leaving the Amanda Knox case behind when my face appears on profiles and articles about the film.”
“Stillwater” isn’t a direct representation of Knox’s case, but it’s very similar. Matt Damon plays Bill, a father who travels from Oaklahoma to France to help his daughter Allison get out of a murder charge that she says she’s innocent of.
Here’s a refresher on Knox’s case: She was a 20-year-old American exchange student living in an apartment in the college town of Perugia, Italy, with several roommates including Kercher, an exchange student from the U.K., and was eventually wrongfully convicted of Kercher’s murder in 2007.
After failing to get in contact with Kercher for roughly a day, Knox alerted her parents to call the authorities as she suspected Kercher was in trouble and no one in the apartment could successfully open Kercher’s locked bedroom door. Kercher was found dead in the bedroom of stab wounds and blood loss after a violent break-in.
The case was subsequently pinned on Knox despite no substantial evidence. Knox became an immediate suspect along with her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, despite having spent the night at his home while Kercher was murdered and voluntarily going to the Italian police station.
In a true miscarriage of justice, Italian authorities zeroed in on Knox and refused to adequately investigate other actual suspects like Guede for years. Knox was arrested and imprisoned for four years and was convicted by Italian courts of Kercher’s murder (and charges of faking a break-in, defamation, sexual violence, which amounted to a 26 year sentence). Knox was then acquitted, convicted again and finally fully acquitted for the last time by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation in 2013. After she was released Knox returned to the U.S., so her acquittal technically happened in abstentia.
Guede was eventually convicted of killing Kercher; he was a known burglar around Italy and was arrested once his bloodstained fingerprints were found on Kercher’s belongings. Guede was sentenced to a 16-year prison sentence, though an Italian court ruled in 2016 the killer could complete the term by doing community service.