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Marisa Abela Eyed for Amy Winehouse Biopic

MovieWeb logo MovieWeb 7/28/2022 Jeremy Dick
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The long-gestating Amy Winehouse biopic may have finally found its lead. Per Variety, the biopic, dubbed Back to Black, was developed with the intention of casting a newcomer to play Winehouse in the film rather than going with a famous pop star. Reportedly, Marisa Aribel (Industry) has risen as the frontrunner for the role. Talks are said to be underway and the casting has not yet been made official.

A rising star, Abela would be best known for her role as Yasmin Kara-Hanani in the HBO and BBC Two series Industry. After shining in the show's first season, Abela will return for season 2 in August. She previously starred in the Sky TV series COBRA and will appear in the upcoming films Rogue Agent and She Is Love. Abela also recently joined the cast of Greta Gerwig's Barbie movie with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, but it's unclear if she will be playing one of the film's multiple Barbies or an original character.

Abela, who is of Maltese, Libyan, Russian, and Polish descent, also happens to be of Jewish heritage. This was important for the filmmakers, as the goal is for the biopic to be as authentic as possible with telling the story of Winehouse, who was Jewish. While none of Abela's previous roles have required her to show off what she can do with her singing skills, it's reported that her RADA profile describes her as a singer with a "lower vocal register that's in line with Winehouse's own extraordinary range."

Related: These Are Some of the Best Movies About Musicians

The Amy Winehouse Biopic Has Been a Long Time Coming

A popular and tremendously successful singer, Amy Winehouse was just 27 years old when she passed away in 2011. Her tragic story has been told in documentaries, but while there have been plans for years to get a scripted biopic made about her life, it hasn't been until more recently when the gears began turning. Finding the right person to play Winehouse is one of the first along with one of the most important steps in making this movie, and as of now, it's looking like Marisa Aribel will be the one to bring that vision to life on the screen.

Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), a personal friend of Winehouse who knew the late singer well, will direct Back to Black using a screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh (Nowhere Boy, Control). Studiocanal is producing with Alison Owen, Debra Hayward, and Tracey Seaward. The film also has the full support of Winehouse's father, Mitch Winehouse, who previously participated in the 2021 documentary Reclaiming Amy on the BBC for the 10th anniversary of Amy's passing.

“What we want is somebody to portray Amy in the way that she was…the funny, brilliant, charming and horrible person that she was," Mitch Winehouse told The Sun in 2018, speaking about the planned biopic. "There’s no point really me making the film because I’m her dad. But to get the right people to do it, that’s very important, and we will.”

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