Saturday, April 30, 2011

{alltv} Panettiere fascinated by Knox story


The simplest question always is the most profound in contentious and complicated court cases.

Is Amanda Knox guilty or innocent?

"It's one of those stories where you just don't know," actress Hayden Panettiere said. "That's why I was so interested in playing it.

"We genuinely spent five weeks, every day, talking about it and reading about it and looking at new evidence, trying to form some sort of opinion. And it's like, 'She's innocent, she's guilty, she's innocent, she's guilty, she's innocent.'

"I don't know that we'll ever really know."

Panettiere portrays the title character in the made-for-TV movie Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy. Having aired on Lifetime in the United States earlier this year, it makes its Canadian debut Sunday, May 1, on Slice.

Knox, an American honours student who was attending university in Italy for a year, made international headlines when she was convicted - as were two males - for the 2007 murder and sexual assault of one of her flat-mates, British student Meredith Kercher. Knox was given a 26-year sentence when the verdict was handed down in 2009, but her case currently is under appeal (under Italian law she is presumed innocent during the appeal process).

Referred to by her childhood nickname "Foxy Knoxy" not only in the media but also by her Italian prosecutor during the initial trial, Knox was painted as a selfish, sexually obsessed, narcissistic, remorseless killer. But primarily (although not exclusively) in American circles, there was debate as to whether Knox was being railroaded by a legal system that was unfamiliar to her.

"If you look at the media on this, it made all the difference in the outcome and the way people viewed her," said Panettiere, 21.

"Her (childhood) teammates called her Foxy Knoxy. You know, her last name is Knox, so Foxy Knoxy. If I were judged based on every nickname I've had, we'd be in trouble."

Predictably and understandably, the families of both Knox and Kercher were not happy that Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy even was being made. But the finished project does a fairly deft job of both building the drama and leaving the door ajar for different explanations.

Panettiere is best known for playing cheerleader Claire Bennet on Heroes (remember that brief year when "save the cheerleader, save the world" was the most popular phrase on TV?). Despite the crazy hours on the Heroes set, Panettiere said she was aware of the Knox case peripherally when it was happening.

"I truly believe (Knox) when she says her lawyers told her to go out there and be her vivacious and smiley self," Panettiere said. "(Prosecutors and media) turned that a lot against her. They said she was always bubbly and happy, which was weird and creepy. I genuinely think that's just who she was.

"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 broaden her horizons and have experiences and meet new people.

"Whatever it was that happened that night, four people's lives were ruined."

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