Kary: 

This is the Crime Story podcast with Kary Antholis where stories of crime and justice are told.

On today’s podcast we have the first part of a two-part interview with Crime Story contributors and producers and writers of the podcast series The Truth about True Crime, Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson.

I met Amanda and Chris through Brian McGinn, one of the producer-directors of the Amanda Knox documentary that premiered on Netflix. I was very much interested in Amanda’s perspective on the criminal justice system as an exoneree, a journalist and a public speaker.

In part one of the interview, Amanda and Chris talk about the early influences on their perceptions of storytelling and on their respective world views.

We discuss Amanda‘s experience of the creation of the Netflix documentary, how she and Chris met during the final stages of the making of that film, her experience of watching that film and of how people responded to her after viewing the film.

And so, without further, ado here is part one of my interview with Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson.

Kary:

Hi, guys.

Amanda:

Hi.

Christopher:

Hello.

Kary:

(laughs)  Welcome, Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson. Thank you for being with me today.

Amanda:

Thanks for having us.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Kary:

First of all, I have to say, we’ve really and thoroughly enjoyed our working relationship over the past few months. The work that you guys have done for us has been so totally on point and in sync with our mission, and I guess in a certain sense, it’s not surprising because the work that you’ve done, Amanda, as an exoneree and  the things you’ve written have inspired us to, to approach crime and the criminal justice system, in the way that we have been doing. So, thank you and thank you –

Amanda:

Oh, well.

Kary:

… again, for being with us.

Amanda:

(laughs) No problem. Yeah, I was just about to say like, whew, good. (laughing)

Kary:

I want to start by talking about storytelling, and the role in story… of, the role of storytelling in both of your lives. Who were the storytellers that influenced you, irrespective of the form of the storytelling, and who were the first storytellers that you remember? What were the first stories that had an impact on, on each of you?

Amanda:

I mean, okay, so for me, the answer is really, really clear, crystal clear. The author who most influences me today is Jon Ronson. He’s this incredible journalist from England and he is an incredibly curious and thoughtful, and empathetic person, and he’s also freaking hilarious. And he can delve into really complex social and psychological issues and, and tell that story from a place of both investment and detachment that I find really admirable.  And so I just… he’s one of my favorite people to read, and his journalism really informs my own journalism. And bef-, you know, before all of that my biggest influence was J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter.

Kary:

(laughs)

Amanda:

I’ve read that book, like those books so many times and in so many different languages, and every single time I’m impressed by what it offers me, and what lessons I can take away. And one of my favorite things, is my favorite book in the Harry Potter series tends to not be other people’s favorite book.

Kary:

Oh, yeah?

Amanda:

Yeah. I love the fifth book, and the fifth book, the Order of the Phoenix, is one of the larger of this, the whole series, so it’s, it just takes a lot longer to read, but also, it’s one of the more difficult to read. It’s, um… It’s not the first time an important character dies, but it’s the first time that someone who is… you… someone who Harry is the closest to dies, and so, he goes through incredible grief, and leading up to that grief-

Christopher:

I mean…

Amanda:

… he is like incredibly angry the whole time. So, it’s a very uncomfortable book to read.

Christopher:

Hmm.

Amanda:

And meanwhile, he’s getting trashed by the media.

Christopher:

Yeah, yeah. Isn’t that the book where he’s-

Amanda:

Yeah.

Christopher:

… basically wrongfully accused and slandered by the media?

Amanda:

Absolutely.

Christopher:

Yeah. No wonder you like it.

Amanda:

So, loved that book. (laughs)

Christopher:

(laughs)

Kary:

What, when, when…

Amanda:

Deeply relate.

Kary:

When, when did you read that book for the first time? And…

Amanda:

Yeah, so the first time I read it was when it came out. Like I was in line at Barnes and Noble, in my Harry Potter cloak to receive it, but in the meantime, I’ve also read it numerous times since then, including in prison. So…

Christopher:

In Italian.

Amanda:

In Italian.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Kary:

So, so did it, it… well, obviously, it changed meaning for you over the course of time, but did it have an impact on you before you were wrongly accused, or?

Amanda:

Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I grew up alongside Harry. I was… I tended to be the same age as Harry as he was… as the books progressed. So I became very, very invested in not just the world, because I’m a fantasy person, but also his development as a human being. His understanding of the world changed as he experienced new things, and I could deeply relate to that, as many… (laughs) I’m like one in a billion people in the world who feel that way. And, and then to go through my own process of being isolated and singled out, and very misunderstood, I, I found myself relating even more deeply as an adult to the series.

Kary:

That’s fasc-, it’s fascinating, and I, I never would have connected the fifth book-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Kary:

… to your experience, but, uh-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Kary:

… of course, upon reflection, it makes complete sense. Chris, what about you? Where, what… Who were the storytellers that influenced you, and, and made you want to pursue a career in storytelling?

Christopher:

It’s a complicated question. I’ll try to keep it as brief as I can. I grew up reading, you know, sci-fi and, and fantasy books. I was a big fan of Isaac Asimov, the Foundation Trilogy, things like that, and I thought I was going to be a computer science guy. I went to school for computer engineering for a bit, until I had a sort of dramatic 180 in my college years and dropped out for a spell, and then came back as an English and Philosophy guy. And at that point, you know, I wa-, I was very adrift, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I certainly didn’t think I was going to be a storyteller. I wound up in the poetry world largely because I was late to register for classes over and over again.

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

And, and the fiction class kept getting full.

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

And so, I’m like, well, I guess I’ll take Poetry, and then I, I had met this poetry professor Richard Kenny at the University of Washington, and he blew my mind. He changed, he changed the course of my life by exposing me to a set of analytical tools for poetry that suddenly made this opaque, romantic seeming thing, crystal clear. And I realized that rhyme is a tool, and meter is a tool, and diction is a tool, and I have all these tools in my tool kit. And we, you know, he’s… We spent a whole semester just imitating people, imitating Beowulf, imitating Dante, imitating Louise Glick before he let us write a poem of our own about something, and that was crucial for me, and since it sent me on a path towards poetry grad school, I went to… I have two MFAs in poetry.

Christopher:

So, I spent years in an academic environment with my, with my nose deep in poetry books,  and you know, poet, poetry can tell stories. Not all poetry does, but I would say that when it does tell a story, it does so in a very crystalline, refined way. Something like, I got a bunch of poems in my head. Let’s just see what comes to mind, like, I don’t know. There’s an Emily Dickinson poem  called… I think it’s called Truth or… Truth and Beauty. “I died for beauty, but was scarce adjusted in the tomb, when one who died for truth was laying in an adjoining room. He questioned softly, why I died, “For beauty” I replied. “And I for truth. The two are one. We brethren are,” he said. And then as kinsmen met at night, we talked between the rooms, until the moss had reached our lips, and covered up our names.”

Amanda:

Mm.

Christopher:

And that’s just a… you know, there’s three stanzas, short little movement, but that, there’s definitely a beginning middle end there. There’s a conversation.

Amanda:

[crosstalk 00:08:46] There’s a scene. It’s a scene. Yeah.

Christopher:

There’s a bit of drama. Yeah. So, while I was in that world, I, you know, I was, of course, reading novels and, I started cheating on, on my muse with fiction, basically.

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

(laughs)  And that began as I, I had a big Sherlock Holmes fixation at one point, and I, I became best friends with this guy, Gavin, who I met in Rome on this poetry program, and we decided to write a mystery novel together kind of on a lark. And that was… the big influences for that were probably Monty Python, Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes and Jorge Luis Borges.

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

Which is a weird collection of things. As Gavin and I continued writing together, the, the, the first big book that we published was War of the Encyclopedists, and that one, I would say, the Coen Brothers became an influence, weirdly. And, and also, I want to say like, this is gonna sound pretentious, but like-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

…  Shakespeare. (laughing)  I always loved Shakespeare. I spent a lot of time reading Shakespeare, and one of the things I-

Amanda:

Me, too.

Christopher:

… I love most about it is that whatever the contemporary debates of the time, it seems like Shakespeare never picks a side. He’s kind of a cipher. You know, people ask, well, was he a royalist or not? That, you know, you look at characters or scenes that seemed to taunt the monarchy, and the answer is that we don’t know that Shakespeare exploited that controversy of his day to create character drama, um and it’s never really definitively clear what his personal beliefs on the matter are.

Christopher:

And [Bohr Hayes 00:10:29] wrote a, has a great little parable about Shakespeare, and that very fact, hi-, that his essential facelessness. So, the, the idea that like, you know, the Iraq War, which feature, featured prominently in that book, I didn’t want to come down on an ideological side on that. There’s a lot you can say on, on many sides, and it was important for me that there were different characters who had very different beliefs about it. There’s an activist character, there’s a military character, there’s an artist character who’s a, a little distant from it, but finds herself unexpectedly drawn in.

Christopher:

And so, like that… learning from Shakespeare that like, you know, I can… These, these big grand ideas are very useful for creating intimate interpersonal drama. And then the Coen Brothers thing, I would say, is like realizing that the world can be a little wacky, and yet still feel very real, and that, that is sort of a deep lesson I learned. I wanted to go a little larger than life in certain circumstances, and the book after that, Deliver Us, goes a step further in that, painting Amazon and Detroit in these kind of, I don’t know, magnified proportions.  Now I’m doing journalism with Amanda, and that’s totally new for me. I’m not used to nonfiction, so, I’m kind of like, carefully paying attention to-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

… to her. (laughing) You know. And writing about, writing about reality in this way is, it presents a whole new set of challenges. And I, I don’t, I don’t have, honestly have many role models for this. Yeah.

Amanda:

But you have a great set of tools.

Christopher:

And I have a great toolbox.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Kary:

And how are you… well, let, let me take a step back. I also want to cover a bit about each of your, the shaping of each of your world views, the moral… the way that you kind of morally perceive the universe, the way-

Kary:

…  a, and, and how for you, Amanda, that changed,  during the course of your ordeal in Italy. Um-

Amanda:

Sure.

Kary:

What, what, what, what were, what was your moral, ethical upbringing, and what were… who were the people that were influential on each of you as young people in the way that you saw the world, the world as it was, the world as you wanted it to be?

Amanda:

That’s actually a really great question, and, it’s one that I think is a really important one for journalism because everyone’s internalized moral beliefs inform their journalism, informs everyone’s decision making, and I think that people don’t think enough about how they are informed by their morals when understanding information. So, and that was a deep, deep lesson for me as, going through everything. So, growing up, I’m, I’ve… did not come from a religious family, but I come from a moral family, obviously. You know, my mom at a certain… so, I grew up in a divorced household, lived with my mom, but also every other weekend with my dad.

Amanda:

And, you know, God wasn’t a topic of conversation for me, but at a certain point, you know, my mom dated a, a really religious Catholic guy, so we would go to church with him. So, you know, I was exposed to religion. I was exposed to moral questions, outside of religion mostly. Like, I remember distinctly when I was about as tall as a countertop, my mom… I came in from like playing outside with my, my neighborhood friends, and asked her if I could make some peanut butter sandwiches for everyone. And she said… first of all, she said, “I’m really proud of you for thinking of that,” and as I was making these very simple white bread and peanut butter sandwiches, she told me, that, you know, there are many things that I could be in life, you know, successful or, or rich, or whatever, but she said the thing that she wanted me to be was kind. Like whatever else happens, just be kind, and I distinctly remember this, and it’s always hit me.

Amanda:

It’s always struck me as this important memory. And, you know, then I went to a religious high school and I felt very conflicted about it because suddenly I was being asked to consider moral questions in terms of Scripture, and I remember like getting into it with one of my professors at one point, not even getting into it. I was just more like asking a very like, you know, petulant question which is, “Is my mom going to go to hell because she divorced my dad?” (laughs) Like, but almost in like a challenging my teacher to tell me that my mom was going to hell. (laughs) And, and so, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve always felt, um… Anyway, so my, my feeling about morality going into the whole insane situation that I went into was, I was very agnostic on the religious question, but I was not agnostic on the morality question. And my morality was informed by intuition, really, in my intuition that I’m a person, and other people are people, and I should treat other people the way I would hope to be treated, which is with kindness and thoughtfulness. and so…

Kary:

That’s very Golden Rule of you.

Amanda:

It’s very Golden Rule, but also-

Kary:

Mm.

Amanda:

… like the golden rule just came very, very intuitively to me. I was always on the side of the underdog. I was always making friends with the person who was in the corner not chatting with everybody. So, that just came intuitively to me, and then being arrested for a crime I didn’t commit, my roommate being murdered suddenly out of nowhere, um and me going through these trials, and being portrayed as the worst version of humanity that is possible. The thing that really stuck with me about morality, and about moral intuition is that first of all, I wanted to understand why what was happening to me was happening to me. And various people would say to me, you know, who are supporting me, they would say things like, “Oh, well, your prosecutor is just an evil man.” And, you know, “This is, this, this terrible thing is happening to you because of evil, wicked people.”

Amanda:

And I remember having this intuition that that wasn’t correct, that this was not happening to me because people are bad. This was happening to me because the people who were doing this to me thought they were doing the right thing. Their moral intuition was telling them to go after me, and they were wrong, and that led me on this sort of path into going from agnosticism to atheism, realizing that not only is there no… like, there is truth in the world, but the truth in the world that is accessible to us is very limited. It’s the kinds of… it’s the material things. It’s the DNA. It’s… and like those bigger questions about what’s right and wrong, there’s no like fundamental truth about that in the universe. And so, like there’s no fundamental truth about whether or not my prosecutor is wicked or not.

Amanda:

Like there’s, there’s nothing about him that suggests like that there was something moral happening to me. What was happening to me was just happening to me, and I was suffering, and my suffering was ultimately only meaningful to me, and therefore… and the people who loved me. And therefore, the only thing that I could do to be fully empowered to combat my own suffering was to, to make the best of the situation that I had. Meanwhile, understanding that people… the, the, the morality that was internalized in my prosecutor about the way people should be was informing his wrongheaded idea of who I was. So, this man is a deeply Catholic man who viewed me, a, you know, occasionally pot smoking, occasionally ca-, having casual sex young woman as a morally wrong woman who is capable of anything, and I… who is capable of evil because I didn’t match his understanding of what a moral person should look like.

Amanda:

And that has informed my process of thinking about what is it that a person thinks they’re doing, and I think the vast majority of people, unless they’re psychopaths, are not sitting there, you know, when they’re doing something wrong and hurting another person, they’re not sitting there going, “Ha ha ha, I’m hurting another person. They’re thinking, like, “I’m entitled to do this,” or, “I don’t understand the consequences of my actions to the point that I, I recognize that what I’m doing is hurting someone,” as in the case of my prosecutor. Sorry, that was very long and convoluted. I hope that makes sense. (laughing)

Kary:

Uh, it makes a lot of sense. It’s fascinating and, I’m particularly struck by this, your notion of atheism and the, the moral framework, the ethical framework that you build inside of the, kind of the, the sense that there is no moral organization to the universe that is inherent in atheism. Can you talk a bit about how you constructed that framework? I, it, it seems to relate quite a bit to your mother’s wish that you be kind, and to, a fundamental empathy that you bring to your engagement with the world, but, but I’d love to hear a bit more about how you’ve constructed this ethical framework inside of the atheism that you found yourself gravitating towards.

Amanda:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, so the fundamental thing that I’m thinking about is, yes, there is no moral framework to the grand scheme of the universe. Morality is a thing that arose out of our consciousness because we are relating to each other all the time. So, while morality is not fundamental, it is an incredibly important aspect of our experience as human beings relating to each other, and what I’ve come to realize about people is that not everyone has the same moral palette. Not everyone has the same recognition of what is moral or not, and for that reason, we come into conflict with each other a lot of the time. So, for…

Christopher:

Is it… this is all from Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, which is kind of one of our, one of the seminal texts that the two of us keep going back to. It, we read it together and kind of collectively blew our minds a few years ago.

Amanda:

Yeah. So, yeah, so knowing that they’re… everyone is informed by their own intuition and upbringing about what is moral or not, I recognize that as people are moving through the world and misunderstanding each other, and coming into conflict each, with each other, very often that is because they may not have the same moral intuitions as other people, or the same cultural upbringing as other people, and those are… those play heavily into conflict. And misunderstanding, dehumanization, that happens across the board.

Amanda:

Furthermore, like our own evolutionary, like our own evolutionary environment brought us into a place of being tribal, and having that be pretty important for our survival. And so, all of those things inform why we do what we do, and why we feel like we’re doing the right thing when we’re doing it. And in terms of my own moral compass, it does really fall back to my own intuition that I cannot live with myself if I am purposefully harming someone. I can barely live with myself when I accidentally, (laughs) harm someone, and I would never want to do unto someone the suffering that was done unto me.

Amanda:

And so, what I’m learning through my experience is that the way I was vilified, the way I was misunderstood is a mistake, an understandable mistake that I do not want to repeat, and in fact, that I want to investigate more in order to share whatever insights or, and perspective I have with people. And that’s all I can do because ultimately, we’re all just answerable to each other. We’re not answerable to some universal being. We’re answerable to each other, and to ourselves. We have to live with ourselves and with each other, and whatever I can do to make another human being feel seen and understood is ultimately, and acknowledged, is ultimately the… one of the most moral things that I can do. That’s how I feel.

Kary:

Amazing.  I’m, I’m, we’re going to come back to that when we-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Kary:

Talk about your work as a journalist and, and The Truth About True Crime. But what I’d like to do is focus for the moment on the film, on the documentary that premiered on Netflix.  As you know, I interviewed Brian McGinn about how the project came together, but I’d love to hear about how it came together from your point of view. And I’d also love to hear you talk a bit about the interview process, his use of the  Errol Morris technique of the teleprompter uh… 

Christopher:

The Interrotron.

Amanda:

Yes. The Interrotron. (laughing) Of course, it’s called the Interrotron, (laughs) and it morphs into a motorcycle. So, yes, so the, this was… the documentary filmmaking… And, you know, Brian was… Brian and Rod were both in Perugia while I was still on trial.  Their producer, Stephen Morris, really recognized the, the importance of whatever story… like he, he saw something in what was happening to me as an important story to tell, and so he and Brian, and Rod were in Perugia filming me during my appeals trial. So, before I was ever in contact with any of them, like while I was on trial, I was not in contact with any storytellers. I was this… I was on trial, (laughs) and I was in prison.

Amanda:

So, that was my struggle, but I know that they had spoken to my family members, to my friends. They had even gone into, like, deeper investigations into the, the people who are involved, like this, this… So, it was a part of a greater story about how my prosecutor had also targeted another person in a prior case, the Monster of Florence case, and they went and interviewed people about that. So, they were really doing their homework. And, and, you know, their impression upon people close to me was that they were very genuine people, but of course, like, my family had come into contact with so many journalists over the years while I was on trial, and some of them who had seemed very genuine were, maybe, not, in fact, or were a little bit exploitative, or were a little bit less honest about their intentions than, than they had been with them.

Amanda:

And so, when I got out of prison, they approached me. They came to Seattle. We had dinner. We talked, and they, you know, told me, “Look, we have all this great footage. We think your story is really, really important, and we cannot do this documentary without you. We will not do this documentary without you.” And I said, “I’ll think about it.” And I did not… (laughs) you know, I thought about it for years, and it wasn’t until my acquittal was overturned, and I was put on trial again, and I was found guilty again, that I considered the documentary as an option to tell my story before I might get thrown back in prison again, and have no other chance to tell my side of the story.  It was… the second conviction was really tough for me.

Amanda:

A lot of people don’t… you know, it’s, it’s not as famous as the other ones because I wasn’t physically there. It, it… I was convicted in absentia, and so, there wasn’t all the bells and whistles to it, but it was a shocking conviction because it was based on no physical evidence whatsoever. I was convicted based on people’s impressions of how I behaved, not… like, there was no physical evidence. Like, the physical evidence that the prosecution had used to try to link me to this crime scene had been discredited in my appeals trial, and so, like, I was facing this insane, surreal experience of being like, well, they just convicted me because they don’t like me, basically. They don’t like the way I acted. Like, there’s no reason for them to convict me except their, you know, sort of opinions about what I should… what an innocent person should behave like.

Amanda:

And so, that was an incredibly scary thing for me. I was facing extradition, um and I only had one last chance, one last court that was going to look… overview my case before I was potentially facing prison time. And, you know, I reached out to Rod and said, “I’m ready,” and they went full, like, out of nowhere, after years of just it being in a drawer, they went full steam ahead. And the experience, for me, of being interviewed, was… you know, like, they were, they were very good about interviewing me. I actually found the, Errol Morris Interrotron to be, very easy on me, because I did not, I was not looking at a camera lens, nor was I in a room looking at someone’s face, but aware that just over his shoulder is a camera lens.

Amanda:

I was looking at Brian, and I knew Brian at, at, by this point.  So, I was talking to Brian and I felt very comfortable doing that. And the way that they… the setup that they had was, they actually sat me in a very large room. Like we, they, they rented out larger spaces, like, you know, one of them was a, a sort of like sound stage or something like that, and,  and they had this enormous backdrop, this huge gray backdrop that they put way far back. And they sat me on a stool in the middle of this sort of barren room, and then lowered the lights so that I felt very alone, almost as if I was sort of stream of conscious talking to my friend who was sort of like looking at me through a tunnel, and then we just talked, and talked, and talked and talked for hours. And the thing that I really appreciated about them as storytellers is they didn’t limit themselves, like so many others, to asking me what happened. They asked me that, but they also asked me, what do I think about everything that has happened?

Amanda:

They really seemed to care about what my perspective was about everything that was happening to me and ultimately, when the film came out, they decided to use my perspective as a kind of frame to the whole thing. It’s, you know, the film starts with, with my thoughts about how I’m either a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I’m just a regular person like you, and it ends with this, you know, meditation on how the world has intuitions about what evil people look like, and, and are like, and they want the safety of being able to say, “It’s not me. It’s them.” It’s the othering. It’s the dehumanizing the other person.  And I really appreciated that that, that that registered with them because there’s no guarantee that that ever will stick with someone and I, and I feel like they seemed to really appreciate that, and, and therefore I appreciate it. (laughs) Um…

Kary:

But prior to that, had you had the opportunity to articulate all of these thoughts that you’d been processing during your car-, incarceration and during the, the four trials?

Amanda:

So, prior to the Netflix documentary, I had written a memoir and that was a really, really big important deal for me, because at the very least, I could finally for the first time, tell the story from my perspective and add my voice to the hundreds of voices who were voicing my experience for (laughs) me without my consent, and that was great.

The one thing that I will say is that I wrote my memoir immediately upon coming home, and I hadn’t fully been able to process everything that I had been through. So, by the time I was, was interviewed for the Netflix documentary, I had been interviewed a number of times by various journalists. I had written my memoir. I’d had years of life since coming home from prison itself, and so, I had some time to think about things, but at the same time, I was still in the thick of it. Like, I was still on trial. I did not know what was going to happen to me. So, they kind of found me at this perfect moment of having processed things, but was still undergoing the trauma, the ongoing trauma.

Christopher:

Still stuck in limbo.

Amanda:

Yeah, I was still stuck in limbo-

Christopher:

Yeah.

Amanda:

… and they were capturing me in a moment of limbo.

Kary:

Wow. Tell me about watching the film for the first time.

Amanda:

(laughs)  Well, how do you remember it? (laughs)

Christopher:

Was that when…

Kary:

When did you, when did you guys meet?

Amanda:

Chris and I met, shortly after I was fully exonerated. So, he, we met after I had been interviewed for the film, but before the film was ever released.

Christopher:

Before, before all the interviews were done even.

Amanda:

Oh, yeah, that’s true, actually-

Christopher:

Mm.

Amanda:

… because the final interview, we, we had already started dating. That’s right.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Amanda:

So, Chris came into my life, in two thousand… I mean, I guess we met in 2015 when your book came out, but we didn’t start dating until January of 2016. And, you know, he, he wasn’t aware of my case, you know. He had heard about it because he’s a person from Seattle, so, of course you hear about it, but again, he was that’s not… true crime is not his world. So…

Christopher:

Yeah, when she showed up at my book launch party, you know, all the people in the crowd were whispering, “There’s Amanda Knox,” you know, and I was like that’s, that’s a known entity, was my… about the extent-

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

… of my reaction. Yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t know what to think about that because I didn’t… I knew, like, I think zero about it, but we became, we became friends after that night, after she wrote a glowing review of my book. Uh…

Amanda:

(laughs) Helps-

Christopher:

(laughs) Yeah.

Amanda:

… (laughs) the friendship process. (laughing)

Christopher:

And, yeah, by the time, it must have been, I don’t know February or something of 2016,  Brian and Rod came back to do one last round of interviews, and this is… that was kind of the, what precipitated me becoming invested in all the Italy, Italy stuff because I had been… I made a conscious decision when we met to not dig into that part of her background and history, and, and ongoing trauma because I, I didn’t want the media Foxy Knoxy scandal lens to color how I got to know Amanda. I wanted to see her on her own terms, however, she presented herself, one human to another. And so, I had to not Google, which is very hard. (laughing)

Christopher:

You know? And especially when, you know, if you… as soon as you tell anybody, their first question is like, do you think she did it? And it’s, you know, it’s like what a, what a situation to be in, and to not obsessively pour through all the material you can find, and it is endless. If you want to dig through it, you can spend the rest of your life digging through it. So, I made the decision not to do that. We got to know each other, and we fell in love, and then Brian and Rod came calling, and said, “Hey, we’re, we need to do one more round of interviews. Let’s, you know, when we back out to Seattle, and this Netflix thing is going to happen soon,” and, and that’s when I said, ah, shit. I need to know about this.

Amanda:

(laughs)

Christopher:

You know, I can’t ignore it. I need to know about it. And that’s when I finally read her book. I had been delaying reading her memoir, and I read her book and was deeply moved by it. And then Brian and Rod wouldn’t let me in the interview room, and-

Amanda:

Yup.

Christopher:

… and at first, I was like, what, you know, but I, it’s totally understandable. I think it would have changed Amanda’s  sensibility in that space to know that I, if I was right around the corner, you know. So…

Amanda:

Sure.

Christopher:

Especially when they’re going to great lengths to put you in the middle of that void.

Amanda:

Right.

Christopher:

And then, you know, they… a, a month or two later, they had an early cut of the film and they came out, and I think we watched it on Amanda’s couch on her little TV.

Amanda:

Well, they…. when did they bring us into that little theater?

Christopher:

Well, that was later. Okay.

Amanda:

That was later.

Christopher:

That was the second time.

Amanda:

Okay.

Christopher:

Yeah. And we gave them some notes. I think it was, obviously, difficult to watch, especially things like crime scene footage that Amanda hadn’t seen-

Amanda:

Yeah.

Christopher:

… since the trial.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Christopher:

But also, I think really cathartic because, you know, you, you should talk to this, but like, she never got to meet Mignini outside of the court room or the interrogation room.

Amanda:

Yeah. Seeing everyone… So, first of all, like, my impression after seeing the film, before it came out, was one of feeling very, obviously grateful to them for being so fair to me and for giving me the space to tell how I felt about what was going on, but furthermore, for giving me access to people that I didn’t have access to before. Like, there were extensive interviews with, with my prosecutor, and he was conveying what he thought. And, you know, when he said like, “If Amanda is innocent, I hope she, you… forgets all this suffering that she’s gone through,” like a part of me was like, well, screw you, but also a part of me was like, well, you know, he’s thinking about that, and this is where he’s coming from.

Amanda:

And I needed that because I had only ever had encounters with my prosecutor in my interrogation room, and in the courtroom, both times during which he was trying to destroy my life. And I intuited that there was more to him than that experience that I had had, um but I had no access to it. So, that was my first access to a more fully fleshed out human being that he was. And then on top of that, I, I, I loved that they gave space to Raffaele and, and to show, you know, he’s a quirky guy, and like, sometimes his, like, slip of the tongue, translating things into English is hilarious.

Amanda:

(laughs) And, and, you know, like it… and as embarrassing as some of the moments were, like 20-year-old Amanda was 20-year-old Amanda and she was embarrassing, like I, I recognized, um… like, there’s this one moment in the film where my best friend from childhood, Brett, calls me on my phone, and of course my phone was being tapped, so, we now have this archival audio footage, and she’s asking me how I am in the immediacy of finding out that Meredith had been murdered. And, you know, in my 20-year-old sort of dumb, stupid way, I’m, you know, I’m, I’m, I tell her like, “I’m okay.  The cops are really like, you know, talking to me a lot, but I’m trying to help.”

Amanda:

And of course, Brett, in her, like, 20-year-old dumb way is like, “You know, it’s okay because this is still going to be one of the best experiences of your life. You’re studying abroad, blah, blah, blah.” And of course, like, we sound like idiots because we were. We were 20-years-old. And I think that like, conveying that, like, there’s so much judgment that has been heaped down upon every single central figure in this case, and people are making claims about reality based upon their, like, their moral judgments and intuitions about what a person should have or shouldn’t have done in that situation, but it’s like, we’re talking about, at least in my case, a 20-year-old kid who just wanted her mom.

Amanda:

And I really appreciated that they spent tri-, time trying to convey that, and doing the same work with the other figures that were central to this case. And, you know, I don’t know if Brian mentioned this when in your class, but he told me that before the film ever came out, and the world, you know, reacted to it, he showed the film to every single person involved, and every single person felt that they were fairly portrayed. Mignini did. Nick Pisa, the journalist, did. Raphaelle and I did. And that is a real accomplishment, the idea that they gave us space to be humans and to share our ideas alongside experiences, what happened to us.

Amanda:

And, you know, I did not know how the world was going to react to me.  I did not know if this was just going to be yet another thing where the world is going to heap judgment and scorn upon me. And when the film did finally come out, and I was scared to death, I was shocked by the number of people who reached out to me on social media just to say, “I’m sorry that I judged you.” I was not expecting that. I was, you know, my, my greatest hope from this documentary was that people would be more informed about the facts. I was not expecting people to go out of their way to say sorry for making jokes about me, or for just assuming the worst about me. And I’ll never forget that. Um… yeah.

Kary:

Wow.  

End Part One.