How Marisa Abela transformed into Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black’ | Trending Viral hub


How can an actor authentically and respectfully embody a real-life legendary singer on screen without it being seen as a tribute act? And how do they do it when so much of that person’s life as an artist (a life that ended tragically not long ago) played out in front of cameras, in the media, in interviews, and was captured on phones?

This was the task given to Sara Green, the choreographer and movement coach who worked closely with “Back to black” star Marisa Abela to help transform it into Amy Winehouse for the Sam Taylor-Johnson biopic, out today in the UK with StudioCanal (and in the US on May 17 with Focus Features). It was a task that she admits, given the “plethora of images” of the late music icon, was “quite daunting.”

Unsurprisingly, hours of hard work and research were essential, as Abela and Green met in a north London studio four times a week for more than three months before filming began in January 2023. It was here where Abela’s Winehouse first joined, but rather than simply learning to imitate the singer, the main goal was to hide behind the famous beehive, eyelashes and tattoos to truly understand the person she was playing.

“It was really key to be able to inhabit Amy from the inside out,” Green says. “We’re not trying to impersonate Amy. We are not trying to copy it. We want to understand why she moves the way she does.”

To do this, the two delved into everything related to Winehouse, exploring everything that might have influenced her, including where she hung out, what she liked, what she ate, what she didn’t eat, and what she wore. “It was a little like being a detective,” Green notes. “You’re investigating someone and piecing together why she did the things she did and why she moved the way she did.”

When cameras started rolling on “Back to Black,” she says her three-month stint at Winehouse amounted to a “thesis” on the singer. “Marisa probably knew Amy better than anyone at the time.”

Emily Lowe

Although Winehouse’s career was sadly cut short by alcohol poisoning at the age of just 27 in 2011, her stage presence and style became almost as instantly recognizable as her voice. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t changed, sometimes dramatically, even in the relatively short time she was recording. And with the biopic charting her meteoric rise from a talented pub singer to her breakthrough debut album “Frank,” via global recognition and multi-Grammy award-winning success with “Back to Black,” this was also something that Green and Abela had to take into account, highly. detailed account.

“I think what’s interesting about Amy’s ‘Back to Black’ period is that it wasn’t something that was physically introduced to her, but rather it was a very radical transformation,” Green says. “That made her posture stiffen, we see her lose more and more weight and we see it in her physicality, and she suddenly becomes much lighter, almost floating away from the ground.”

And then there’s the famous beehive hair, the weight of which on such a slim figure also had a significant influence on the way she moved. “This meant that she really had to hold on with an enormous amount of strength,” says Green, who adds that when Winehouse transitioned from ballet flats to high heels, she had to “put all her weight in the center of her body to try.” and maintain balance.”

As Green also notes, this more tense and withdrawn look compared to the fluidity of her earlier years also reflects Amy’s attempts to “try to contain the difficulties that she’s going through.”

These difficulties are the focus of much of the second half of “Back to Black,” in which Winehouse juggles the glow of being a phenomenally successful recording star and celebrity with her own seismic internal struggles.

For Green, who worked with Abela to portray such deeply sensitive subjects, they chose to simply focus on the small things.

“The only villain really in this movie is addiction,” he says. “And the effects on his body were really harsh. So our job was to show those effects as honestly as possible, while maintaining as much of Amy’s power as possible. Even in those last years, she was still determined, she was still powerful, she knew what she wanted and she went after it.”

Green is represented by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.


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