'Stillwater': Abigail Breslin says her character and Amanda Knox are 'different people' (exclusive)

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Watch: Stillwater star and director explain character is not Amanda Knox

Abigail Breslin has said her character in Stillwater is "very different" to Amanda Knox, despite Knox's story of wrongful conviction proving to be an influence on the film.

The film follows Bill Baker (Matt Damon) as he travels from Oklahoma to Marseille in an attempt to clear his daughter Allison's (Abigail Breslin) name and secure her release from the prison where she is being held for the murder of her girlfriend.

There are clear similarities between this case and that of Knox, who was acquitted in 2015 after wrongly serving four years in an Italian prison for the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher.

Read more: Matt Damon on playing a Trump supporter in Stillwater

Knox spoke out against the movie last week, accusing director Tom McCarthy and his team of "profiting off my name, face and story without my consent".

She then doubled down with her criticism telling Variety: “Matt Damon and the director can walk away with a great story in their pocket, but meanwhile, I’m still living with the consequences of people thinking that I am somehow involved in this crime that I am not involved in.”

Abigail Breslin says her 'Stillwater' character is very different to Amanda Knox. (Jessica Forde/Focus Features/eOne/Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television/Getty)
Abigail Breslin says her 'Stillwater' character is very different to Amanda Knox. (Jessica Forde/Focus Features/eOne/Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television/Getty)

Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment UK prior to Knox's comments, Breslin said that Kercher's murder was an initial inspiration for the film's story, but that she was not attempting to play any version of Knox.

"I obviously knew about the case beforehand and, afterwards, I did some further research on it," said Breslin. 

Read more: Movies based on real life that distorted the truth

"As Tom always states, Allison and Amanda are different people and it is a different story. 

"Obviously there are very strong similarities in some ways, but I didn't want to do anything that was mimicking or copying or trying to recreate Amanda because Allison is her own person. 

"It was just an amazing story to have as a point of reference, for sure."

Tom McCarthy cast Abigail Breslin in 'Stillwater' even though she couldn't drive or speak French. (Jessica Forde/Focus Features/eOne)
Tom McCarthy cast Abigail Breslin in 'Stillwater' even though she couldn't drive or speak French. (Jessica Forde/Focus Features/eOne)

McCarthy said that reading about Knox was "initially what gave me the inspiration" to approach a story about a young American imprisoned abroad, but that the 10-year development of the project caused his script to move away from any depiction of real-life.

"The similarities more or less end with American student in prison for a crime she did or did not commit and a father coming to visit her. It was really that father-daughter relationship that I was keying off," he added.

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"So at that point I sort of left [the Kercher murder] behind. I put the script down and then re-approached it with two new writers six or seven years later — French writers Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré, who worked with Jacques Audiard. 

"I felt like at that point I had really left the case behind. We didn't spend a lot of time talking about it because I think we had the foundation of our new world and we wanted to lean into that."

'Stillwater' premiered in July at the Cannes Film Festival. (Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)
'Stillwater' premiered in July at the Cannes Film Festival. (Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Breslin said she took the role due to her desire to play "complicated, layered and multi-dimensional" characters and that it was important for her not to cast too much moral judgment on Allison.

"I try to find roles that, while they might have very bad moral mess-ups from time to time, they are at the core of them good people," she said.

Read more: Why it took a decade for Breslin to return to Zombieland

Breslin added: "I tried my best not to judge her or her choices or her actions because she is very human and very real. 

"I actually enjoy her imperfections and her moral dilemmas because that is what people are like. That's humanity."

Stillwater is in UK cinemas from 6 August.

Watch: Trailer for Stillwater

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