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Marisa Abela Says She ‘Completely Respects’ Criticism For Amy Winehouse Role

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Marisa Abela has opened up about playing late singer Amy Winehouse in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s upcoming 2024 film, “Back to Black.”

The English actress disclosed that she sensed the public’s gaze as she stepped into the role and opted to draw inspiration from Winehouse’s devoted fan base, including herself, to portray the iconic singer-songwriter.

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Marisa Abela Understands Fans Need To See Her Perfectly Play Amy Winehouse

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Expressing her thoughts on portraying Winehouse during the New York City premiere of the musical drama, Abela acknowledged the challenge of facing criticism from fans throughout the process. In her words:

“It’s a big deal. She really means so much to so many people and she’s such an important artist so I get it, I completely respect it.”

Reiterating that she shared similar sentiments with the “Rehab” singer’s fanbase, the 27-year-old continued to ET:

“But I just sort of, 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.”

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Social Media Users Dragged The Actress For Winehouse Transformation

Amy Winehouse at Hylands Park - Day 2 Chelmsford, England
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Just as she predicted, Abela has faced criticism, with the most prominent happening after the first look at pictures of her in Winehouse-related outfits surfaced online.  

Calling for the actress’ immediate arrest in the caption, one X user shared an image depicting Abela in the Camden Town native’s legendary look.

Unfortunately, the 2023 Screen International Star of Tomorrow’s transformation seemed to miss the mark, leaving her struggling to fully step into the character.

The Blast observed that in response to the post, one person declared, “This cannot be what my brain is telling me it is. it simply cannot” while another stated, “I know this ain’t no attempt at Amy Winehouse?!?”

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“This is a crime. Absolutely won’t be watching,” a third X user asserted, as a fourth shared, “I know they are not playing in Amy’s face like this,” and a fifth added, “THIS is a crime against humanity. JAIL!”

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Abela Has The Late Icon’s Father’s Full Support

Mitch Winehouse VISITS AMY IN REHAB
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Even when the public argued that Abela and Winehouse shared zero physical resemblance, Winehouse’s father, Mitch, quickly spoke up.

The Blast reported that the 73-year-old believes in separating the actress from his daughter — notably,  Amy was Amy and Abela is Abela.

As far as he is concerned, as long as Abela effectively portrays the character of his late daughter, resemblance between them should be a non-issue.

Mitch then doubled down on his stance by pointing out that he and Eddie Marsan, who portrays him in “Back to Black” do not look like each other. 

The singer further expressed his belief that Hollywood often placed too much emphasis on looks, citing instances where actors portrayed real-life figures without physical resemblance. 

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For his example, Mitch listed Cary Grant playing renowned composer Cole Porter in the 1946 film, “Night and Day.”

Winehouse’s Family Honored Her With A Documentary

Amy Winehouse
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Meanwhile, following her untimely passing in July 2011, Winehouse’s immediate family convened to discuss the star in a documentary released in her honor.

Per The Blast, the bittersweet project, called “Reclaiming Amy,” delved into the complexities of the late 27-year-old’s life and her meteoric rise to fame at a young age.

Besides her mother, Janis Winehouse-Collins, recounting the narratives, her family and friends also offered their perspectives on Winehouse’s journey.

Candidly addressing her daughter’s enduring struggle with addiction, Janis remarked, “…She was prone to addiction. She could not stop herself. It’s a very cruel beast.”

The documentary aired on Friday, July 23, 2021, coinciding with the ten-year anniversary of Winehouse’s passing.

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Who Is Marisa Abela?

Marisa Abela at the Brit Awards 2024
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Born to actress Caroline Gruber and director Angelo Abela, Abela comes from a diverse background, with Russian-Jewish, Polish-Jewish, Maltese-Libyan, and English ancestry.

She enrolled at Roedean School and participated in drama classes through the Theatre Workshop. 

Originally planning to pursue History and Law at UCL with aspirations of becoming a human rights lawyer, she had a change of heart at the last moment and opted to pursue acting instead.

Since then, she has featured in the Sky One action series “Cobra,” where she played the character of Ellie Sutherland.

Additionally, she starred as Yasmin Kara-Hanani in the BBC Two and HBO drama “Industry” and appeared in films such as “She Is Love” and “Rogue Agent.” 

Abela most recently appeared in the 2023 Greta Gerwig film “Barbie,” alongside Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. She is also expected to star in “Black Bag,” an upcoming American spy thriller film written by David Koepp and directed by Steven Soderbergh.

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