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Amy Winehouse's Father and Family Had 'No Involvement' in Forthcoming Biopic 'Back to Black,' Says Director Sam Taylor-Johnson

“They couldn’t dictate how I was to shoot. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.”

amy winehouse mitch winehouse
Source: CraveOnMusic/WENN/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Amy Winehouse had a close relationship with father Mitch.

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The director of the forthcoming Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black has spoken about the involvement of the late singer’s family in the film.

Speaking to Empire, Sam Taylor-Johnson said: “It was important to meet with them out of respect. But they have no involvement in terms of… like, they couldn’t change things. They couldn’t dictate how I was to shoot. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The film follows Winehouse’s rapid rise to fame and the recording of her acclaimed second LP that provides the film with its title. It stars Marisa Abela as the troubled star who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27. The first trailer for the movie dropped earlier this month.

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Winehouse’s life has been covered onscreen before, most notably in Asif Kapadia’s lauded documentary Amy, released in 2015. That film pulled no punches in revealing the singer’s struggles with fame, the media, and also her personal relationships, including with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil and father Mitch Winehouse.

Her father has since distanced himself from the documentary, telling the Guardian on its release, “They are trying to portray me in the worst possible light,” adding “It was horrible… I told them that they were a disgrace. I said: ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves. You had the opportunity to make a wonderful film and you’ve made this.’”

Although Winehouse enjoyed a close relationship to her father, he has frequently been criticized for what some saw as his attempts to cash in on his daughter’s fame as her drug and alcohol problems spiraled. In 2010, he even released an album of his own, later admitting to the Guardian that he knew it wouldn’t have happened had he not become a “celebrity dad” and adding: “Who wouldn’t make an album if they had the chance?”

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amy winehouse
Source: Anthony Martin / WENN/Newscom/The Mega Agency

The singer died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 aged 27.

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In 2013 Mitch Winehouse published a book, Amy, My Daughter, with proceeds going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation set up after the singer’s death. He is currently locked in a legal battle with two of her friends, Naomi Perry and Catriona Gourlay, over money raised from an auction of the singer’s belongings that he says belongs to the Foundation.

Taylor-Johnson also addressed the issue of Mitch specifically.

“I know he saw the film,” she said. “I wasn’t there. I haven’t spoken to him. I think he keeps his feelings pretty much to himself. The important thing for me was not to have any of that noise in my sphere while making the film.

“And I didn’t need the family’s approval. All the music rights were approved by Universal and Sony. So what I wanted as much as possible was the truth of Amy, and Amy’s relationship was that she loved her dad, whether we think he did right or wrong.”

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Back to Black screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh, who previously collaborated with Taylor-Johnson on 2009’s Nowhere Boy about the young John Lennon, and also wrote the acclaimed 2007 Ian Curtis biopic Control, said he didn’t meet with the family.

“If I wanted Mitch’s opinion, it was all pretty much laid out in [his] book,” he told Empire. “It’s the same with [mother] Janis. I don’t think I could have got anything more by meeting.

“It’s a creative film. I know a lot of people still can’t understand that, still can’t get their head around it. It’s my take on Amy’s life and then it’s Sam’s take on Amy’s life. And then it’s Marisa and Jack [O’Connell, who plays Fielder-Civil]’s take on Amy and Blake. In the end, it’s all subjective, but you hope that opinion is accepted and embraced by your audience.”

Blake Fielder-Civil is rarely seen in public and has not so far commented on the film.

amy winehouse blake fielder civil
Source: David Mepham / WENN/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Amy Winehouse had a turbulent relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

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In December 2023, Winehouse’s parents said in a statement: “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.”

Last week it was announced that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis will be scoring the film. Back to Black will open in theaters across the UK & Ireland on April 12 and the U.S. on May 17.


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