Amy Winehouse biopic: who is playing the iconic 'Back to Black' singer?

Here's your first look at the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic, including the actress portraying the late, great singer

Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic. Pictured: SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE Photo of Amy WINEHOUSE, Amy Winehouse performing on stage
(Image credit: Chris Christoforou/Redferns)

The signature beehive, the liquid eyeliner, that unparalleled voice: the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic will no doubt include all of that and more when it delves into the life, career and untimely death of the soulful songstress, best known for her Grammy-winning 2006 album Back to Black and hit tracks like "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good."

The British star—whose music reportedly influenced everyone from Adele to Sam Smith and Jazmine Sullivan—was already the subject of the acclaimed 2015 documentary, Amy, but is now getting the feature-film treatment courtesy of Fifty Shades of Gray director Sam Taylor-Johnson, who has tackled tough musical biopics before, namely the John Lennon-focused Nowhere Boy back in 2009. 

The new movie, entitled Back to Black, will track “Amy Winehouse’s vibrant years living in London in the early aughts and her intense journey to fame," and is being made with the support of The Amy Winehouse Estate. 

Here's what we know about the upcoming biopic, including who will be taking on the role of the iconic star. 

Amy Winehouse biopic: what we know

On Friday, January 13, director Sam Taylor-Johnson gave the world the first peek at Back to Black, posting a picture of leading lady Marissa Abel sporting Winehouse's signature 'do. 

"Marisa Abela…watch out everyone! Cameras roll on Monday. Here we go!" the filmmaker captioned the post, indicating that production on the film will kick off on Monday, January 16. 

Per The Guardian, Taylor-Johnson said she is “fully aware of the responsibility” of directing the film and aims to “create a movie that we will all love and cherish forever. Just like we do Amy.”

The director continued: “I first saw her perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just a ‘talent,’ she was genius. As a filmmaker, you can’t really ask for more.”

Who is playing Amy Winehouse? Meet Marisa Abela

In July 2022, Variety first reported that Marisa Abela was the frontrunner to play Winehouse in the biopic. The 26-year-old British actress, who hails from Brighton, is best known for playing Yasmin Kara-Hanani in the BBC Two and HBO drama Industry and as Ellie Sutherland in the Sky One action series Cobra

Along with appearances in recent British films including the crime thriller Rogue Agent and the romantic drama She is Love, Abela will next be seen in the highly anticipated Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as the titular doll and Ryan Gosling as Ken. Prior to her professional work, Abela studied at London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), graduating in 2019.

The actress is of Jewish descent, which reportedly factored into her being cast as Winehouse, as the neo-soul singer was of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. 

To piggy-back off Taylor-Johnson's Instagram post, Abela posted her own tribute to Amy Winehouse on her social grid, including pictures of her visiting the famous mural of the singer in London's Camden Town, and shots of the movie's makeup and wardrobe details. 

How did Amy Winehouse die?

After a battle with drug and alcohol addiction, Amy Winehouse tragically died at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning in Camden Town, London. 

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.