Swank evokes tears at Toronto premiere of ‘Conviction’
The film, directed by Tony Goldwyn, stars Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”) as Waters who devoted 18 years of her life to overturning her brother Kenny’s wrongful conviction.
It premiered at the Toronto film festival.
“The difficult part (making this film) is that this is a true story,” said Swank.
“When it’s real life and this really happened and somebody… has been wrongly convicted and is in prison, you can’t remove yourself from what you’re doing,” she said.
“Betty Anne and Kenny, this was their life, this was their roller coaster,” she said. “It’s really hard to fathom.”
“That’s when I’m reminded why I’m an actor. I’m an actor because I love people and I love their stories and I love their heart and I love their passion and conviction that makes them prevail,” said Swank as a stoic Water sat nearby trying to hold back tears.
“What was it that got Betty Anne out of bed every day, it was the love for this other human being,” she said.
Kenny had worked as a chef at a diner frequented by the victim Katharina Brow and was questioned by police in 1980 after Brow was found stabbed to death in her trailer home in Ayer, Massachusetts. She had been robbed of cash and jewellery.
But he was only charged two years later after a former girlfriend went to police claiming he had admitted to the crime. Blood found in Brow’s trailer, believed to be her killer’s, was also determined to be the same blood type as Waters’s.
He was convicted and sentenced in 2003 to life in prison.
In an effort to try to help her brother, Betty Anne would get her high school equivalency (GED) and go to law school.
“It’s great to be free,” Kenny Waters told the Boston Globe in 2001 after his conviction was vacated by newly tested DNA evidence, and he thanked his sister.
Swank said the film reminded her about “what’s important in life. I was reminded that family is everything.”
It also stars Sam Rockwell (“Iron Man 2” and “Frost/Nixon”) as Kenny, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher and Juliette Lewis.