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'eye-opening' Matt Damon lived with oil workers in preparation for new film loosely based on Amanda Knox case

'Being invited into their homes, into a backyard barbecue, a guitar comes out and they start singing church songs. It's a very specific place… and very different to where I grew up'

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Matt Damon

Matt Damon

Matt Damon

Matt Damon has said he immersed himself for weeks with oil rig workers in Oklahoma in preparation for his latest role.

The US actor plays a disoriented American who travels to France to help his jailed daughter in Stillwater, which is loosely inspired by the Amanda Knox case.

Speaking after the film's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Damon said he spent time driving around and living with the so-called roughnecks in the Republican state to grasp his character's mindset.

"Being invited into their homes, into a backyard barbecue, a guitar comes out and they start singing church songs. It's a very specific place… and very different to where I grew up," Damon said.

"It was really eye-opening for me."

In the film, Damon plays oil worker Bill Baker, who travels to Marseille to visit his estranged student daughter Allison in prison.

She is serving time for the murder of her roommate, echoing the story of US student Knox and her then boyfriend who were convicted and later acquitted of killing British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007.

Damon said having children of his own had also helped him relate to Baker.

"Since I've had kids I feel like everything is a lot more available in my job, emotionally speaking," Damon said.

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