‘Feeling frailer and smaller’ helped Amy Winehouse actress portray singer

Actress Marisa Abela consulted a dietician to help her safely portray Amy Winehouse in the upcoming biopic about the singer’s life.

The 27-year-old actress from Brighton said feeling “frailer and smaller” helped when depicting the Valerie singer in the upcoming film Back To Black – named after the artist’s famous album and song.

“I had help to do it safely; I consulted a dietician and was being monitored,” Abela said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK.

“Feeling frailer and smaller helped – I hadn’t understood, before, how much that affects your tempo.”

Image: Abela in the Back to Black trailer. Pic: StudiocanalUK

“During her Frank era [her debut album released in 2003], Amy is fast and loud and boisterous with her arms, her movements are big,” she said.

“Once I started to change, I realised that you can’t physically make those same movements.

“It’s uncomfortable to sit. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re more exposed.”

Winehouse, who suffered from bulimia and publicly battled a drug addiction, died from alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at her home in Camden, north London, aged 27.

During filming, Abela said she felt a connection to the Grammy-winning singer, both of them having grown up in Jewish households.

Amy Winehouse leads the celebrations on stage at the 46664 concert honouring Nelson Mandela's ninetieth birthday in Hyde Park, London. Pic: PA
Image: Amy Winehouse performing in London. Pic: PA

“The more I got to know her, the more I felt a major connection to this spiky Jewish girl from London who had a lot to say and was really quite unafraid,” the actress, whose mother is Jewish, said.

“I remembered how I felt when I was young, seeing that woman who was proud and cool, wearing a big Star of David in between a cleavage and a nice bra.

“I understood what a Friday-night dinner would look like in her home, the humour in her family.”

“I loved how effervescent she was, how huge a soul, how she just permeated any room she was in.

“But also, her relationship to her art form, and wanting to be good. That was the most important thing.”

‘My job was to get into Amy’s shoes’

The biopic is directed by 50 Shades Of Grey filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, whose husband, Aaron, has recently been reported to be the next James Bond.

It follows Winehouses’ journey to fame, with “addiction” and “the relentless paparazzi” the villains.

Marisa Abela. Pic: Harper's Bazaar UK/Jem Mitchell
Image: Marisa Abela. Pic: Harper’s Bazaar UK/Jem Mitchell

“As an actor, I think you’re making a terrible mistake when you judge a character and a character’s decisions,” Abela said.

“Of course – these are not just characters, they are real people.

“My job was to get into Amy’s shoes and her soul, and understand why she did the things she did.

“The only villains in our story are addiction and the relentless paparazzi. I’m not telling people how to feel about it.”

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At the 2008 Grammys Winehouse won record of the year, song of the year and best female pop vocal performance all for Rehab, along with best new artist, and best pop vocal album for Back To Black.

Abela, who has starred in BBC Two series Industry and Sky One drama COBRA, is the cover star of the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Back To Black will open in UK cinemas from 12 April.

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Source : Sky News