‘Back to Black’ Interview: Marisa Abela and Sam Taylor-Johnson

Film

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and Marisa Abela Talk 'Back to Black'.

(L to R) Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and Marisa Abela Talk ‘Back to Black’.

Opening in US theaters on May 17th is the new biopic ‘Back to Black,’ which chronicles the life and career of legendary singer Amy Winehouse. The film stars Marisa Abela (‘Barbie’) as Winehouse and was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (‘Nowhere Boy’).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Marisa Abela and director Sam Taylor-Johnson about their work on ‘Back to Black’, how Abela prepared for the role, why Taylor-Johnson wanted to make the film, and the legacy of Amy Winehouse.

Related Article: ‘Back to Black’: Amy Winehouse Biopic Casts Marisa Abela

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in director Sam Taylor-Johnson's 'Back To Black,' a Focus Features release.

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s ‘Back To Black,’ a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features.

Moviefone: To begin with, Marisa, can you talk about preparing for this role and what did you learn about Amy’s life that really helped you capture her spirit on screen?

Marisa Abela: I mean, the preparation was an intense one. It was different to anything I’ve ever done before as an actor. There’s a lot of emotional prep and imaginative prep that goes into playing any part. But when someone is as intense as Amy Winehouse, as well as recognizable as Amy and a real person, there’s just a lot more factual and technical work that goes into playing that person. So, there’s all the emotional nuances that you would normally do, and then you must layer on these mannerisms and her singing voice, the way she moves, the way she talks, and all these things. So, I booked the job about four months before I started filming, and I was in intense preparation for those four months. Singing lessons, guitar lessons, movement lessons, and a physical transformation. But also, I mean, the truth about transforming into Amy was finding what about her that I felt was important. The truth is that when I first found out about the job and when I was auditioning for it, I felt a connection to Amy in my very early stages of research to her soul and to her wants and desires in life. Quite immediately and quite emotionally, I think that carried me through the whole process and made this feel like an authentic path for me to take as an actor. Because I just connected to something within her soul that was important to me. You can sort of add all the affectations on top of a thing, but if the thing itself isn’t real, then it counts for nothing. She needed to exist, really. That’s something that’s internal. It’s internal work, and it’s about intention, feeling and perspective. Luckily, I found that, but we also found it together.

Actor Marisa Abela and director Sam Taylor-Johnson on the set of 'Back To Black,' a Focus Features release.

(L to R) Actor Marisa Abela and director Sam Taylor-Johnson on the set of ‘Back To Black,’ a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features.

MF: Finally, Sam, as a filmmaker, why did you want to make this movie and what did you want to say about Amy’s life?

Sam Taylor-Johnson: When they asked me to make this movie, I found myself saying yes before I really processed the responsibility that I was taking on in a way. But one of the reasons, or I guess primarily the only reason I wanted to make it was the music, because the music was such a gift, and they are two of the greatest albums. But really, I wanted to frame our story with ‘Back to Black,’ because it really felt so truthful, and so much so that her voice leads us through the movie in that way. That the songwriting and the lyrics and going into her perspective was interesting for me as a filmmaker to create something where we really sort of sit intimately in her space and understand creatively who she was when she wrote this music. But, you know, it’s a knife edge that you must walk in a way to make something like this, because of that sense of responsibility. Because she really lived, and there are still people, you know, her family and her friends. The only way I felt I could do it in a way that did justice to her was to use her voice as my kind of north star, if you like.

“Her music. Her life. Her legacy.”

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R2 hr 2 minMay 17th, 2024

Showtimes & Tickets

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… Read the Plot

What is the plot of ‘Back to Black’?

The extraordinary story of Amy Winehouse’s (Marisa Abela) 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.

Who is in the cast of ‘Back to Black’?

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in director Sam Taylor-Johnson's 'Back To Black,' a Focus Features release.

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s ‘Back To Black,’ a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features.

Other Movies Similar to ‘Back to Black’:

Buy Amy Winehouse Music on Amazon

 

Read original source here.

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