Speaking alongside writer-director Tom McCarthy and co-stars Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin and Lilou Siauvaud during the film’s press conference, Damon reflected on what it was like to return to a packed cinema after a rough 18 months for the world.
“I was a little overwhelmed last night. I’m really glad we’re here this year. We’ll look back and remember launching the film out of Covid. To be in a room with 1,000 other people who are strangers but who are part of the same community because we love the same thing was such a great reminder of why we do this.”
In Stillwater, Damon plays an oil worker who travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter, who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit.
Damon said being a parent helped him access the emotion of the role: “I found the script to be so beautifully written. Since I’ve had kids, I feel like everything is more available to me emotionally speaking. I don’t have to reach so far. It’s all right there.”
The Oscar-winner spent time in Oklahoma in a Roughneck community before production began. “This is a culturally very specific place. The people were wonderful to us,” Damon said, also noting that his character would almost certainly have voted for Donald Trump.
McCarthy told press today that the film — which is co-written by Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré — is in part inspired by the case of Amanda Knox, the American woman who spent almost four years in an Italian prison following her conviction for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher.
“I was pretty fascinated by the Amanda Knox case,” said Spotlight director McCarthy. “I did a deep dive. It served as an initial inspiration.”
Damon told the audience that he was bowled over by the acting ability of newcomer Siauvaud. He recalled how on the first day of filming he walked over to the child actor after seeing her perform and joked: “‘So that’s how it’s gonna be?’…I knew right away that I was working with the Meryl Streep of nine-year-olds.”