Home > Interviews > GUILTY OR NOT? Lifetime’s AMANDA KNOX: MURDER ON TRIAL IN ITALY airs tonight


by Jim on February 21, 2011 · 2 comments

Marcia Gay Harden and Hayden Panettiere star in the AMANDA KNOX movie tonight on Lifetime

With the media circus that exploded with the scandalous events of November 1, 2007 when college student Meredith Kercher was murdered in Italy, it was obvious from the start that the story was also the perfect ‘you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up’ material for a made-for-TV movie. Also, even though the crime happened several years ago, public interest is still high for any piece of information towards truly knowing what happened on that fateful night and appeals for the accused are still being filed to this day.

Tonight, the Lifetime network brings Amanda Knox: Murder To Trial In Italy to air with a dramatic retelling of the events leading up to the murder and focuses primarily on the Amanda Knox piece of the story. In the film, honors student Amanda Knox (played by Heroes vet Hayden Panettiere), who was referred to as “Foxy Knoxy” by the Italian prosecutors and the press during the trial, was Meredith’s roommate while studying in Italy and is one of the three persons accused of the sexual assault and murder of Kercher. Also accused of the crime were Rudy Guede, a resident of Perugia, and Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian student. Knox, Guede and Sollecito were all sentenced to prison after the trial with charges of sexual assault and murder.

While the makers of the film decided to take the approach of leaving it up to the viewer as to whether they think Amanda actually helped in committing the murder or is she just a victim of injustice, the film is a solid depiction of the events that make for a both disturbing and compelling story.

At the recent Television Critics Association Winter Session held last month in Pasadena, “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy” stars Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) and Marcia Gay Harden (Damages, Broadway’s God of Carnage), along with Executive Producer Trevor Walton and film director Robert Dornhelm talked about how they decided on the context of the film, if the families involved were consulted and the acting challenges in playing these real-life characters.

Question:  Was the Knox family, in any way, involved in the story for this?  Did they give approval?

Trevor Walton:  No, we didn’t talk with either family. We worked from an incredible amount of material from the courtroom itself, from all the press, American press and worldwide press.  So we pieced it together as impartially as possible…I think we were very, very careful not to be partial in the way that we told the story. Amanda Knox is facing two situations. One is a slander case, and then the appeal. But what our story does is tell, factually, what happened up to the point of her arrest. So we feel that we’ve done this very responsibly and should have no affect whatsoever on any ongoing trial.

Question: Hayden, you’re the only person who couldn’t really be completely unbiased in this because you had to play it one way or other. Do you think that she did it?

Hayden Panettiere: It’s one of those really riveting stories where you just don’t know. And I mean, we spent five weeks ‑‑ and I’m not just telling you this just to say this ‑‑ genuinely spent five weeks every day talking about it and talking about it and reading about it and looking at new evidence, trying to form some sort of opinion about it. And it’s like she’s innocent; she’s guilty; she’s innocent; she’s guilty; she’s innocent. I can’t say that I have an opinion, and that’s why the story is so interesting ‑‑ the facts and what people said and the changes in stories. It really all comes together to form this incredible story that I think people are really genuinely interested and curious in. And I don’t know that we’ll ever really know.

Question: That must make it really hard to play, though, because you had to decide yourself, you know, who am I playing?

HP: It’s true. It was very interesting, and I spoke a lot to Robert [Dornhelm, the film’s director] about what approach to take in this case. And I think one of the greatest things about this film, and the way it’s written and the way it’s done, is that everyone has their role to play within it. And because of the different roles and how they come together…my job was to play a girl who, regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was. She’s not a malicious girl. She didn’t have any intention to do this. This wasn’t an angry or dark girl. Whatever it was that happened that night, four people’s lives were ruined. But it was my job to stay pretty true to form in who she seemed to be as a person in court and otherwise.

Marcia Gay Harden:  Fortunately for us, Lifetime is extraordinarily specific about checking their facts and if there was some discrepancy in the script, it would go right back to the proper sources to make sure everything that was said was fact‑based. There’s a story beyond true and guilty, however, which is a story of emotion, a story of families being destroyed, mothers losing their daughters. You don’t play an action as an actor based on whether you did something or not, because then you would be twisting your mustache to tell the audience that you did do it. You know, Amanda eats a meal the same way she would eat a meal because she’s who she is. You try to be truthful about the emotional life of the character, and it doesn’t all hinge on this one simple fact, which no one knows.

Question: The family must know about the movie. Have you heard anything from them about it?

TW: They do know about the movie. I think they have commented and they understood that this…I can’t even begin to say how many books and articles and documentaries that have been made. This is a story of an American girl who’s been accused of killing a British girl in Italy, so obviously, those three areas, in particular. It was a firestorm of publicity. All of the people involved in this tragedy have, for quite a long time, understood that this has become a world story, if you will. I think that in this terrible journey that they’ve all been going through, this is part and parcel of what they’ve experienced.

Question: Hayden, were you aware of it when it was going on?

HP: I was on “Heroes,” so we were working some pretty insane hours but I do remember the story, and I think it was incredibly important to capture who this girl was. And I really, truly believe in what she says, which was that her lawyers told her to be herself, you know. They told her to go out there and not pretend to be anything that she wasn’t, but be her vivacious and smiley and happy self. So I know that they turned that a lot against her in the story. You know, they said that she was always bubbly and happy, which was weird and creepy. But I genuinely think that’s just who she was. She was just trying to look at it in the best way that she possibly could and maintain this positivity about it that helped her get through it. She went through so much, and the emotional aspects of it, the fact that she could even sit there and try to keep herself as sane as possible, you can’t expect somebody to do ‑‑ you can’t, you know, point a finger and shake a finger at them for doing that.  But I listened.  I mean, I watched hours of footage of her and of the trial and her composure and the way she held herself and the way she spoke, her tone of voice.

MGH:  I have to say this one thing – there was a day she was doing the courtroom scene, and we’d already become close, and we knew where each other stood. But I had seen Hayden working, but I just didn’t know the depth that she could go to and tenacity that she would have and the ‑‑ not longevity…the stamina that she had. And she did the courtroom scene where she’s basically drug away, sobbing. And oh, even when she’s off camera, it is as full or more full for the rest of us who are still on camera. And she, maybe, did the scene about 30 times, maybe.

HP: The only thing I was going add is that it’s just you’re very vulnerable. This is such a vulnerable story, and specifically, Amanda was so needy. And I feel like within the fact that this story was so just tough as an actor, and you’re going in there and you’re dealing with topics and things that you have such a hard time relating to something that’s happened in your life, that you grab on to ‑‑ to your ‑‑ I mean, my mother figure. I was so vulnerable as an actress, that she came in and completely embodied that comfort, that only sense of comfort and safety. And ‑‑ and, you know, the positive aspect of it’s going to be ‑‑ we’re going to work it out. It’s going to be okay.

Question: Hayden, the way you described the character it sounds as though you can’t possibly believe that she is guilty. Is that true?

HP: No, it just means that I believe in the person that she deep down was. And I think that no matter, regardless of innocent or guilty, I believe she has a spirit. She’s a real person. She was a young girl who had dreams and aspirations and was going to Italy to go to school and to broaden her horizons and have experiences and meet new people.  And I don’t think that guilty or innocent takes away from that.

Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy airs Monday night on Lifetime at 999pm ET/PT.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Serena February 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Marcia Gay Harden next time you speak about Italy ‘s laws….study 1st and then you open your mouth.That goes for Joy Behar the big mouth of the view.
You did not even remember the name of the actor that played Amanda’s father.Whats wrong with you….do you have dementia?You played the part of Mellas very fake.Remember this…we must respect others countries laws for what they are..not for what we like they must be.Learn learn learn.
Don’t talk about Italy ….you don’t know anything about that country.If you don’t want 2 say anything nice …just shut up …that goes for Behar 2.

Harry Rag February 24, 2011 at 3:28 am

The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming. They gave completely different accounts of where they were, who they were with and what they were doing on the night of the murder. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis despite three attempts each. All the other people who were questioned had one credible alibi that could be verified. Innocent people don’t give multiple conflicting alibis and lie repeatedly to the police.

The DNA didn’t miraculously deposit itself in the most incriminating of places.

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17.

According to Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci, Knox’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra.

Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts – Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli – categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade. Sollecito knew that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade which is why he twice lied about accidentally pricking her hand whilst cooking.

There were five instances of Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage.

Knox tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, the hallway, her room and Filomena’s room, where the break-in was staged. Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood was found mixed together in Filomena’s room, in a bare bloody footprint in the hallway and in three places in the bathroom.

Rudy Guede’s bloody footprints led straight out of Meredith’s room and out of the house. This means that he didn’t stage the break-in in Filomena’s room or go into the blood-spattered bathroom after Meredith had been stabbed.

The bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede. Knox’s and Sollecito’s bare bloody footprints were revealed by luminol in the hallway.

It’s not a coincidence that the three people – Knox, Sollecito and Guede – who kept telling the police a pack of lies are all implicated by the DNA and forensic evidence.

Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she was involved in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. After she was informed that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, she stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

Knox accused an innocent man, Diya Lumumba, of murdering Meredith despite the fact she knew he was completely innocent. She didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Lumumba the whole time he was in prison. She admitted that it was her fault that Lumumba was in prison in an intercepted conversation with her mother on 10 November 2007.

The English translation of the Massei report can be downloaded from here:


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