‘Back to Black’ star, director on telling Amy Winehouse’s complex life story

Written by on May 17, 2024

Dean Rogers/Focus Features

The new musical biopic Back to Black tells the story of Grammy winner Amy Winehouse’s life.

Marisa Abela plays the beloved jazz singer in the film, and she tells ABC Audio Winehouse’s music has always loomed large in her life.

“I was so aware of her and her music,” Abela said. “But as a 10-year-old, you don’t know what you’re singing when you’re singing ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ or ‘Love is a Losing Game.’”

While she’s always been a fan, Abela said preparing for the film gave her a better picture of who Winehouse truly was.

“As a grown woman, to come back and revisit her music — not just as an artist and as a singer, but as a songwriter,” Abela said. “The person that took all of these experiences in life and, like, squished them into these songs that will live forever as some of the most vulnerable and authentic pieces of storytelling that there are, just creates a sort of new level of admiration for Amy as an artist.”

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson said she hopes the film conveys just how complex Winehouse truly was.

“I felt like she’d just become this tragic figure, and I wanted to really go back to the music and go into the lyrics and understand really how deeply she felt everything and the pain and the love,” Taylor-Johnson said.

Taylor-Johnson also hopes to have honored Winehouse’s legacy.

“It’s tough making a film about somebody real. But also, my feeling was to uphold and celebrate her without judgment,” Taylor-Johnson said.

Black to Black is available to watch in movie theaters everywhere on Friday, May 17.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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