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Back To Black Director Sam Taylor-Johnson & Star Marisa Abela On Amy Winehouses Life And Legacy



  • Back to Black
    explores Amy Winehouse’s iconic career with a focus on her personal struggles and relationships.
  • Director Sam Taylor-Johnson aimed to create a biopic that honors Winehouse’s music and portrays her story without judgment.
  • Marisa Abela trained extensively to bring Amy Winehouse’s most iconic moments to life, showcasing both the highs and lows.


Back to Black is a new biopic centered on the life of English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse. Released 13 years after the untimely death of the artist, who struggled with sobriety, Back to Black is titled after Winehouse’s groundbreaking second album, which won five Grammy Awards in 2008. The movie aims to track Winehouse’s journey through the music industry while portraying key relationship moments between the singer and the most influential figures in her life.

The true story of Amy Winehouse is complicated and tragic, but director Sam Taylor-Johnson had a specific vision she wanted to see play out on the big screen. For that, she enlisted Marisa Abela who, despite being told singing talent wasn’t a necessity for casting, trained tirelessly to be able to belt out Winehouse’s hits like a lifelong singer. Together, Taylor-Johnson and Abela recreated some of Winehouse’s most iconic moments and envisioned some never before seen on camera.


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From legends like Bob Dylan to tragic figures such as Amy Winehouse, there are plenty of upcoming music biopics for viewers to get excited about.

Screen Rant interviewed Sam Taylor-Johnson and Marisa Abela about their work on Back to Black. The pair discussed how they wanted to approach Winehouse’s story and dished on bringing the singer’s offscreen moments to the screen.

Sam Taylor-Johnson Knew What Movie She Wanted To Make

Back to Black Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse

Screen Rant: Most of the people in this movie are still around. When making this, how much did you feel that you had to talk to people like Mitch, Blake, and Mark Ronson to get a picture of who Amy was?

Sam Taylor-Johnson: It was really important to me that I could creatively make the movie I wanted to make. I had to know from the outset that I had all the music rights and that nobody could interfere with how I told the story. At the same time, I felt a responsibility to Amy and to myself, as well as to the people around her, to listen to their stories and to feel like their stories were important to be shared. From that, the decision is made of what to use and maybe not to use, but it’s a big responsibility. I spoke with Mark Ronson, who I already knew previously, and I spoke to her family. And I never spoke with Blake, but Jack (O’Connell), who plays Blake, spent time with him.

But it’s a very delicate balance. The most important thing for me was to really be guided by her music and to create a movie that, from her perspective, has no judgments. Back to Black is really a great love story that she writes. I had to sit within her music and have [in mind] that these are the people that she loved, and [that] she loved with such ferociousness and depth, and that’s why the music connects with us. So, [the idea is] to sit there and just really allow her music to wash over us, and for her to tell her story in that way.

Marisa Abela On Bringing Two Sides Of Amy Winehouse To Life

Back to Black trailer Marisa Abela and Lesley Manville

Marisa, I saw this last night and thought you did an incredible job, especially with the singing. I [also] really love the private moments like Amy meeting Blake and spending time with her grandmother–those that maybe weren’t documented in the same way as the rest of her career. What was the most important part for you to get right?

Marisa Abela:

The more iconic moments and the much less iconic moments are equally as important to get right and equally nerve-racking. One comes with a great responsibility of, “People have seen this.” People know what Glastonbury looks like, or they know what the Grammys performance looks like. There’s that moment that is now in our trailer that’s when Amy wins the Grammys and there’s that look. It’s such a beautiful and iconic moment because it sort encapsulates how vulnerably innocent she was. It’s a weird way to describe Amy because there’s a lot about her that was not innocent, but that pure innocence [and] childlike nature of her… to get that moment was equally as nerve-racking as getting a moment right where she’s sat on the sofa with her grandmother watching herself on Jonathan Ross.

It’s a moment that you don’t really think about—is a woman that’s being catapulted into superstardom as a singer—but of course she sat at home with her nan, with a cup of tea, watching herself on Jonathan Ross, and what does that moment feel like? All of the research that you do makes these moments the same, because when she’s singing “Rehab” at the Grammys, [there’s] that feeling of like, “I’m going to prove to all of you that I can be great again after everything that you’ve seen play out in the media.” [Then there are] the interviews that she does, where she says, “I just want people to really recognize me as a great jazz singer.” These tidbits of information that you get just inform everything that you do. It’s all about intentionality, and, “What is it that Amy wants in this specific moment?”

About Back To Black

Back To Black Amy Winehouse

The extraordinary story of Amy Winehouse’s early rise to fame from her early days in Camden through the making of her groundbreaking album, Back to Black that catapulted Winehouse to global fame. Told through Amy’s eyes and inspired by her deeply personal lyrics, the film explores and embraces the many layers of the iconic artist and the tumultuous love story at the center of one of the most legendary albums of all time.

Back to Black

will be released in theaters on May 17.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

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