Marisa Abela pictured as Amy Winehouse in new image from controversial biopic

New still from Sam Taylor-Johnson’s controversial Back to Black Amy Winehouse biopic shows ‘Industry’ star bearing a striking resemblance to the late singer

Finn Cliff Hodges
Tuesday 05 December 2023 13:17 GMT
Amy Winehouse: A Celebration

A new image has been released from the forthcoming Amy Winehouse biopic, Back to Black, following the divisive discourse surrounding the project at the start of the year.

The image of Marisa Abela (Industry, COBRA), shows her bearing an uncanny resemblence to the late singer, sporting her trademark lip piercing and famous winged eyeliner.

The still might assuage concerns among fans that Abela did not have enough physical similarities to Winehouse to successfully depict her onscreen.

Her casting was earlier defended by the “Rehab” singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, following criticism over early images of Abela on set.

“Marisa’s a great choice for the role, even if she doesn’t look exactly like Amy,” he told US website TMZ.

Abela, 26, will be joined on screen by British stars Lesley Manville, Eddie Marsan and Jack O’Connell, while Fifty Shades of Grey director, who was close friends with Winehouse, is steering the project.

Winehouse died in 2011 aged 27, five years after her 2006 album Back To Black made her a global superstar and won her five Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for the album’s lead single, “Rehab”.

Marisa Abela in new still from Back in Black

The biopic is a STUDIOCANAL production that has been endorsed by The Amy Winehouse Estate. While it is believed that the film is a passion project for Taylor-Johnson, it has come under scrutiny amid fears that Winehouse’s memory is being exploited after her death.

In 2018, Mitch Winehouse caused controversy when he announced a hologram tour due to commence the following year, despite previously denying a 2014 report in The Sun that this was in the works.

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“To see her perform again is something special that really can’t be put into words,” he said of the hologram tour plans. “Our daughter’s music touched the lives of millions of people and it means everything that her legacy will continue in this innovative and groundbreaking way.”

However, the tour was later shelved by producers Base Hologram, the company behind hologram concerts for Roy Orbison and Maria Callas, due to “unique challenges and sensitivities”.

Taylor-Johnson’s film, which is supported by Universal Music Group and Sony Music Publishing, will feature many of Winehouse’s most famous songs.

It promises to “focus on Amy’s extraordinary genius, creativity and honesty that infused everything she did”, as it depicts her “journeying from Camden High Street in the 1990s to her global fame and many accolades”.

The biopic titled Back To Black is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, who previously directed the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy and will be reunited with Matt Greenleigh who previously wrote the Lennon biopic, to write this new one.

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