The team behind the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black has found its star. According to Deadline, Marisa Abela will portray the late British vocalist in the project, for which filming begins on Monday (Jan. 16) in London. Abela is best known for her work in the HBO drama Industry, and will also be seen in the upcoming live-action Barbie film and the spy thriller Rogue Agent.
Back to Black is a partnership between Studiocanal, Focus Pictures, and Monumental Pictures. It will be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, best known for directing the first film in the box office-busting Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. The script was penned by Matt Greenhalgh (The Look of Love, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool).
“My connection to Amy began when I left college and was hanging out in the creatively diverse London borough of Camden,” Taylor-Johnson says. “I got a job at the legendary Koko Club, and I can still breathe every market stall, vintage shop and street. A few years later Amy wrote her searingly honest songs whilst living in Camden. Like with me, it became part of her DNA. I first saw her perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just ’talent’ … she was genius. As a filmmaker you can’t really ask for more. I feel excited and humbled to have this opportunity to realize Amy’s beautifully unique and tragic story to cinema accompanied by the most important part of her legacy — her music.”
Named after Winehouse’s classic 2006 sophomore album, Back to Black will chronicle the sudden rise and tragic downfall of the artist, who died in 2011 at the age of 27 after suffering from drug and alcohol abuse. The film is being made with the blessing of Winehouse’s estate.
A Winehouse biopic has been a Hollywood white wale for years. Noomi Rapace was attached to star in one iteration of the project in 2015, but that film was never made. A 2015 Winehouse documentary, Amy, was a critical and commercial success and won the Academy Award for best documentary.