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‘Back to Black’ Star Marisa Abela on Amy Winehouse Biopic Backlash 

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Marisa Abela has heard the backlash surrounding her performance in the upcoming biopic Back to Black.

Abela, 27, who stars as Amy Winehouse, faced criticism from fans over her vocals being featured in the film over those of the late singer. “She really means so much to so many people and she’s such an important artist so I get it, I completely respect it,” Abela told Entertainment Tonight at the Tuesday, May 14, premiere of Back to Black in New York City.

She added, “I feel exactly the same way, but … for me, that’s just about throwing myself into the work harder and faster and more intensely and, you know, there was — there just needed to be no stone unturned when it came to my preparation.”

Fans saw the first footage from Back to Black, which introduced Abela’s portrayal, in January. The teaser recreated some of Winehouse’s most memorable moments from throughout her career, including her 2008 Grammys performance and her romance with Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell).

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Named after Winehouse’s hit 2006 song, the biopic follows the singer’s journey from her humble roots as a North London jazz singer to becoming an international sensation. Winehouse died at the age of 27 in July 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning and is survived by her parents, Mitch and Janis, who gave their blessing for the film following its announcement.

'Back to Black’ Star Marisa Abela Addresses Backlash Regarding Her Amy Winehouse Portrayal 

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse and Jack O’Connell as Blake Fielder-Civil in ‘Back to Black.’
Dean Rogers/Focus Features

“We are thrilled that StudioCanal, Focus Features, and Monumental are making this movie celebrating our daughter Amy’s extraordinary music legacy and showcasing her talent in the way that it deserves,” they said in a joint statement.

For Sam Taylor-Johnson, the film’s director, there was a “huge responsibility” in bringing the late star’s life to the big screen. “One of the things I had to keep coming back to was to have no judgments, you know? And to sort of balance that in a very careful way so that I could sort of remain in her perspectives,” Taylor-Johnson, 57, told Yahoo Entertainment ahead of its release.

'Back to Black’ Star Marisa Abela Addresses Backlash Regarding Her Amy Winehouse Portrayal 

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black.’
Dean Rogers/Focus Features

The filmmaker added that she approached Winehouse’s journey as a “creative soul,” in lieu of paying attention to the tabloid fodder that surrounded the singer. “Everything else is everyone else’s judgment,” she said. “Let us celebrate her.”

Back to Black is in theaters Friday, May 17.

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