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‘Amy Winehouse’s father loves her, is proud of her and is heartbroken,’ says Eddie Marsan

Eddie Marsan has shared his experience of playing Amy Winehouse’s father Mitch in a new biopic of the singer.

The Ray Donovan star, 55, is portraying Mitch in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film Back to Black, alongside Marisa Abela as Amy and Jack O’Connell as her husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Taylor-Johnson’s film comes 13 years after Amy’s death, aged 27, of alcohol poisoning, and nine years after the documentary Amy, which portrayed Mitch in a negative light and as someone who prioritised her career over her health.

At the time, he said the film portrayed him in the “worst possible light” and called it “spiteful”.

In a new interview with The Observer, Marsan was asked what sort of man Mitch is, to which he replied: “He is a father and that’s how I played him. A friend of mine worked with Amy in the music industry and knew him. I said to him: what do you think about Mitch? He said: I liked the man. He saw him as a loving father who had a daughter who was an addict and who was at the same time the most famous woman in the world.”

Marsan added: “He was just a cab driver trying to do his best, trying to deal with it. I’d never have done this film if it sanitised – or demonised – Mitch. It’s not even the way I approach life. Life is more complex than that.”

Amy Winehouse (EPA)
Amy Winehouse (EPA)

He said that “the narrative about Mitch being the cause of Amy’s demise has taken hold” because “when someone as young as Amy dies, the trauma is so bad we want to find someone to blame”.

“But the world is chaotic and addiction is as much genetic as it is about nurture,” he continued. “My interpretation of Mitch is that he loves her, is proud of her and is heartbroken.”

Eddie Marsan and Mitch Winehouse (Getty)
Eddie Marsan and Mitch Winehouse (Getty)

According to Taylor-Johnson, Winehouse’s family didn’t contribute to the new film. “It was important to meet with them out of respect,” she told Empire. “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.”

Speaking about Mitch, she added: “I know he saw the film. 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.”

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black’ (StudioCanal)
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black’ (StudioCanal)

Back to Black is out on 12 April. It will delve into the life and career of Winehouse, beginning with her early days in the 2000s as a north London jazz musician and culminating in her rise to fame as a Grammy-winning singer with hits such as “Rehab”.

If you have been affected by this article, you can contact the following organisations for support: actiononaddiction.org.uk, mind.org.uk, nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth, mentalhealth.org.uk.