Making of Stillwater: Press Conference in Cannes

One of the most-anticipated films of the 74th Cannes Film Festival was Stillwater that premiered Out of Competition at the Palais des Festivals on the night of 8th of July.

The lead cast of the film – Matt Damon, Camile Cottin, Abigail Breslin, Lilou Siauvaud – were joined by the director Tom McCarthy at the press conference the following day to talk about the making of the film.

Abigail Breslin, Matt Damon and Camille Cottin © Rune Hellestad Abigail Breslin © Rune Hellestad Matt Damon and Camille Cottin © Rune Hellestad Abigail Breslin and Camille Cottin © Rune Hellestad

Stillwater is a joint American and French production shot almost entirely in Marseille, France before the pandemic. It’s a film about a father (Bill, played by Matt Damon) who travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter (Allison, played by Abigail Breslin), who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit.

Tom McCarthy, Abigail Breslin, Matt Damon, Camile Cotti, Lilou Siauvaud

Tom McCarthy, Abigail Breslin, Matt Damon, Camile Cotti, Lilou Siauvaud at Stillwater press conference © Tamara Orlova

The story will ring somewhat familiar to all those who were following the harrowing story of Amanda Knox, a British citizen who was accused of murdering her flatmate in Italy. When asked whether Stillwater was inspired by the Amanda Knox case, McCarthy admitted that it served as initial inspiration. “I was pretty fascinated with that case and did a deep dive into it at the time. It served as initial inspiration point but not much beyond that. I just had a daughter then and I thought how it would be like.”

Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin attend the screening of 'Stillwater' during the 74th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. © Rune Hellestad

Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin attend the screening of ‘Stillwater’ during the 74th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. © Rune Hellestad

The film is very intense, moving from one emotional scene to the next one. According to Damon, the main ‘burden’ was on Abigail as her character was dealing with emotional rollercoaster. “Their relationship is so complicated because it’s not your average daughter-father relationship,” added Abigail. “She [Allison] is hard on her dad [Bill] because she wants to be protected from the hurt she’s experienced before. But he is her only ally and it’s not the ally she would ever want to see.”
Matt’s character Bill, at the same time, appears to be willing to corrupt his own soul to help his child. As a father of four, Matt admitted that any parent can relate to crossing any number of lines for their child. “But Bill is from a certain place. He is over-massed by the situation in a place he would have never found himself otherwise. Since having kids, Matt admitted, he feels like “everything is available for me as an actor and I don’t have to reach far for it. Guilt, shame, responsibility – it’s all there. All you have to do is imagine something happening to your own child. It’s relatively easy to put yourself in that head space.”
Thomas Bidegain, Noe Debre, Idir Azougli, Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Tom McCarthy, Camille Cottin, Moussa Maaskri, Gregory Di Meglio, Lilou Siauvaud, Liza Chasin and Jonathan King © Rune Hellestad

Thomas Bidegain, Noe Debre, Idir Azougli, Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Tom McCarthy, Camille Cottin, Moussa Maaskri, Gregory Di Meglio, Lilou Siauvaud, Liza Chasin and Jonathan King © Rune Hellestad

By Damon’s own admission, getting into the head space of being a redneck from Oklahoma was greatly aided by going to Oklahoma and meeting locals. “Oklahoma time was absolutely critical to build this character together. We took so much guidance from the actual guys who took us to the oil rigs, backyard barbecue and the guitar comes out and church songs start.” It appears Damon had to do a lot of research to get into the head space of a Trump-voting redneck. “When he arrived to the location [in France], he was already that character. He even moved like he was from Oklahoma”.
Entertainment One (eOne) have announced the UK theatrical release date of August 6, 2021.

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Matt Damon at the photo call of Stillwater © Rune Hellestad

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