Marisa Abela: Becoming smaller and frailer helped in Amy Winehouse portrayal

Marisa Abela for Harper's Bazaar UK (c) Jem Mitchell credit:Bang Showbiz
Marisa Abela for Harper's Bazaar UK (c) Jem Mitchell credit:Bang Showbiz

Marisa Abela says that becoming "smaller and frailer" was useful for her portrayal of Amy Winehouse in the biopic 'Back to Black'.

The 27-year-old star went to great lengths to recreate the late singer's slender frame and thinks it helped in her depiction of the 'Tears Dry on Their Own' hitmaker, even though it took a tough physical toll.

Speaking to Harper's Bazaar UK, Marisa said: "I had help to do it safely; I consulted a dietician and was being monitored. Feeling frailer and smaller helped – I hadn't understood, before, how much that affects your tempo.

"During her 'Frank' era (when her first album was released), Amy is fast and loud and boisterous with her arms, her movements are big. 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."

Marisa admits that she initially rejected the chance to play Amy in Sam Taylor-Johnson's movie – which is slated for release on April 12 - because of the "huge" responsibility that the part would entail but soon forged a connection with the tragic star because of their shared Jewish upbringing.

She recalled: "My first instinct was to say, 'No, that's too much, too huge.'

"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.

"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."

Abela added: "Once I framed her in that way, I felt I was in a position to take on this role. I never wanted to trick anyone. Sometimes you audition and you say you can ride a horse, speak Spanish or sword fight, when you can't.

"I was never, ever going to do that here. I was not going to put myself on the chopping block unless I knew I could do this."

Read the full interview with Marisa Abela at