Back to Black: Marisa Abela reveals how she took on Amy Winehouse's iconic vocals in new film

9 April 2024, 16:25

Marisa Abel and Jack O'Connell talk to Smooth
Marisa Abel and Jack O'Connell talk to Smooth. Picture: Smooth/Global

By Tom Eames

Playing an iconic singer on the big screen is always going to be a daunting task. Just ask Rami Malek or Austin Butler.

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But then throw in taking on that icon's famous vocals too when you haven't sung professionally before, and you'll get to Marisa Abela's experience playing Amy Winehouse in Back to Black.

Marisa plays the late Amy Winehouse in the biopic, which is released at cinemas this week. Opposite her is Jack O'Connell as Amy's on-and-off partner Blake Fielder-Civil.

Ahead of the film's release Marisa and Jack caught up with Smooth's Jenni Falconer, where they discussed the making of the film, Amy's legacy as an artist and meeting her real-life family and friends.

Talking about whether people's opinions on Blake might change after seeing the film, Jack explained: "When I met Blake, because me, like anyone, obviously susceptible to formulating some assessment on who he was just by virtue of all the coverage he's had, whether he wanted it or not.

"So I went and met him, found I got on with him, found him to speak very honestly and genuinely about Amy and his time with her. I really wanted to honour that. This version of Blake that we see in the movie is essentially through Amy's eyes as we're being guided by the words on the page."

Marisa said of Amy: "I think for me, it was really important to show her in that... go back to Amy the girl and then Amy the woman, Amy the girl in love. I think we have this music now because she was fearless enough to love incredibly deeply.

"And whatever it is that we might think about that relationship, there's probably an objective truth somewhere about that. But for them at the time, subjectively, they were in love and it was just so intense. It's intense, as we can see from an album like Back to Black, you can't write an album like that that changes the world and changes how people feel every time they listen to it if it's not based off of intense raw emotion.

BACK TO BLACK - Official Trailer [HD] - Only In Theaters May 17

"I think we just really wanted to uncover, again, the fact that we fell in love with this girl because she came on this scene. She's a riot. I really wanted to bring that back."

Marisa also opened up about taking on singing for the first time. She said: "I was not a singer already. I think for me, the most important thing was just getting a general feeling.

"And that's the hardest thing because it's not tangible. But in terms of the tangible stuff, I think probably the singing was the hardest thing. The movement was one thing. I went to drama school, I'd been like a giraffe! So I'd learned how to mimic movements, but singing was tricky."

Back to Black is released at cinemas on Friday (April 12).