Stillwater Director Tom McCarthy Talks Matt Damon, Casting & Amanda Knox

Stillwater Director Tom McCarthy Talks Matt Damon, Casting & Amanda Knox

Matt Damon stars as Bill Baker in director Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater. Jessica Forde / Target Functions Getty Illustrations or photos

An old university sensibility permeates Stillwater, the new Matt Damon-led film from Spotlight director Tom McCarthy. Specified trailers and Television set spots have sold the film as an Amanda Knox thriller parallel sprinkled with Taken things as Damon’s Monthly bill Baker tries to show his incarnated daughter’s innocence. But genuinely, the film is a redemption tale and a family members drama. It is additional smooth spoken and, very well, still than some might anticipate.

The star auto for Damon is intentionally understated. Whereas Spotlight was a painstakingly specific procedural pursuing a procession of scenario developments, Stillwater is anything of its inverse. The sentiment of our protagonist’s everyday living requires priority over the investigative details. In a discussion with Observer, McCarthy opened up about using Damon’s community hero persona to problem the audience in their development of Bill Baker and how the movie, which arrives in theaters July 30, arrived to be.

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Observer: Can you convey to me where Stillwater originated and how it to begin with came to your consideration?

Tom McCarthy: I would say it was like I employed inspiration beyond intention. Numerous, quite a few decades in the past — 10, 12 many years ago now — pursuing that Amanda Knox circumstance, I considered it was a fascinatingly tragic situation. But what actually struck me was this concept of a romantic relationship, or the predicament of the younger lady staying in jail, and I started off pondering, Wow, what’s the story all around that? There was sufficient written and mentioned about that story. I did not want to address that in any authentic way, but I was actually loving the strategy, or just fascinated by the idea is a superior way of indicating this, of a youthful American female currently being in prison abroad for a criminal offense she may well or may possibly not have committed. And then I swiftly started off concentrating on the partnership amongst her and her father, which was fictionalized. This strange romance in between father-daughter in this incredible environment. What a excellent jumping-off place for a tale.

How did you go about casting a motion picture like this? The general public doesn’t automatically affiliate Matt Damon as this rural Oklahoman. I’m curious what attributes you have been hunting for that especially breathes lifetime into the eyesight you have for the film?

The necessary thing was when audiences glimpse at Matt Damon, they think: What? He’s type of like a quintessential American hero, proper? He often has that integrity and that sort of perception of know-how and get-it-carried out that we associate with heroes, precisely cinematically, right? Jason Bourne may not know who he is, but he always understands just what he’s executing and in which he’s likely and how to get it performed. We desired to play on that.

We preferred to commence there, figuring out audiences had been going to get it in. So, when you see Monthly bill Baker in the jobs jumped by six young ones, you are like, “Oh, he’s going to unload,” and what comes about? What normally occurs when any man is taken on by six other guys? He gets the shit crushed out of him, ideal? So, that is inescapable he will get a handful of fantastic punches in simply because he’s a roughneck and those men know how to combat and they are tricky as shit and sturdy as shit. But it’s truth.

We’re working with reality below, not a motion picture.

We’re working with truth in this article, not a motion picture. So, we were hoping to be genuine to that and subvert that. So actually, it commenced there. We need that element in our guide actor, the listing is very tiny all of a sudden of fellas that audiences will present up and be like, “Oh person, this guy’s going to gain — he’s the gentleman, let’s see the place he goes,” and then let’s challenge that. And let’s pressure an viewers to consider the implications of that man’s actions. The two individually and in conditions of the individuals about him and even form of globally, that is what we have been fascinated in discussing.

Sticking with casting, 8-yr-old Lilou Siauvaud is an absolute standout as Maya as Bill’s surrogate daughter of kinds. Was that role tricky to solid and what separated her from the pack?

Her talent divided her from the pack, fairly frankly. Certainly, it was extremely tricky to solid. When you say “I will need an 8-yr-outdated French woman for a function,” the bench is not that deep. And that mentioned, I was surprised at how a lot of superb French actresses of that age came in it was an lovable approach. We saw some really very good girls for the function, and then I acquired a call from my casting director down in Marseille and she was like, “You’ve bought to get down below. I just saw this female.” And I was in Paris operating with the writers, and she stated, “She’s unbelievable.” And I explained, “Why?” She goes, “I really don’t know why. She’s never acted a working day in her daily life, she life about an hour from Marseilles, and her dance trainer sent her in,” but, you know, I went in and there was Lilou, and yeah, she just…with children and casting, male, there is a tiny bit of magic there, you know. It is form of like you are often looking for the needle in the haystack.

Stillwater Matt Damon Tom McCarthy interview

(L to R) Actor Matt Damon, actor Abigail Breslin and director Tom McCarthy on the set of Stillwater. Jessica Forde / Concentration Functions

Stand-up comics are fond of stating there’s fact in just about every joke. I was surprised by the sum of humor in Stillwater, which is normally an emotional household drama. I was wanting to know what your mental math is when coming up with a film like this that continue to have moments of levity?

When I to start with approached [co-writers] Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré with this unique script, it was a incredibly uncomfortable and dry assembly exactly where they were incredibly significant of the script, which I agreed with. There was a pretty sort of sobering prognosis, or diagnostic, of what was mistaken with it and what they considered they’d redo, and I imagined, Oh, boy, these men are going to be actually dry, seriously critical Frenchmen. So I literally got on the airplane, flew to Paris and put in a 7 days with them at Thomas’s apartment, and they were being the most charming, amusing fellas. We laughed so difficult, and that’s truly important to me. The method needs to have humor, requirements to be joyful — the get the job done is difficult you have to have to find that in the perform, correct? I imagine that in all get the job done.

It is a definitely extreme, suspenseful and sluggish-melt away, gripping drama. It is received that factor where by you are just waiting around for the other shoe to fall a whole lot of the time. I consider locating those times of humor just give audiences a minute to not only breathe but connect in a deeper way with the figures.

You have previously mentioned that you figured out from each motion picture you make. What has been your significant takeaway from Stillwater?

Perfectly, it’s a tale that still demands to be penned. We’re just sharing it with audiences now, so I’ll know additional the moment audiences are seeing it. But I could convey to you, what was seriously fascinating about that screening in Cannes was regardless of the reception at the stop and the ovation and all that things that is been composed about it, was just sitting down in a French viewers as an American director who directed a movie generally in French in France and looking at them truly embrace the movie and laugh and be stunned and react and seriously, genuinely feeling that.

What we have been attempting to do with this movie is allow for the story to go the place the tale wanted to go and not truly feel constrained by preconceived notions of what a tale or a genre should be. If we had a central character in a tale that was powerful plenty of, would an audience go on that journey with us? I feel like just from that a single screening by itself, I was like, to me, the response is “Yes.” Will it get the job done for everyone? In all probability not, they never ever do. But that is genuinely enjoyable to me, simply because I believe we have to have to kind of be difficult sort suitable now in movies, ideal? Otherwise, it’s likely to get stale, and we need to be, like, hard audiences and with any luck ,, audiences will aid motion pictures like this.


This job interview has been marginally edited and condensed for clarity.

How ‘Stillwater’ Director Tom McCarthy Challenged Matt Damon’s Hero Image and Tried to Capture Reality