Amy Winehouse's Close Friend and Former Housemate Calls “Back to Black” Film 'Hugely Triggering for Me'

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Tyler James reflected on Winehouse's legacy in a new interview with 'The Times Magazine'

<p>Tim Whitby/WireImage</p> Amy Winehouse and Tyler James

Tim Whitby/WireImage

Amy Winehouse and Tyler James

Amy Winehouse's close friend Tyler James is sharing his thoughts on Back to Black, the new biopic based on her life.

James — Winehouse's childhood best friend and former housemate, who The Times Magazine reported is referenced twice in the film — told the outlet on Friday, May 3, that he felt the project had overlooked some aspects of the late singer's life, such as her addiction to drugs.

“There is this sense of Amy being coherent even when taking drugs, but there was so much suffering," James said.

"The film avoids the uncomfortable. I didn’t like it, and it was hugely triggering for me," he continued.

<p>JMEnternational/Redferns</p> Amy Winehouse attends the BRIT Awards in 2007


Amy Winehouse attends the BRIT Awards in 2007

Related: Back to Black Full Trailer: Industry Star Marisa Abela Portrays Amy Winehouse's Tragic Downfall

James, who met Winehouse when they were both 12 years old at Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, also felt Back to Black focused "way too much" on Winehouse's relationship with her ex husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who is played in the film by Unbroken star Jack O'Connell.

"Amy would have been pleased for Blake, but she wouldn’t have liked the film," James said. "She was very real. She was also very funny and intelligent.”

Back to Black had its world premiere on April 8. Marisa Abela takes on the role of the singer.

After watching the film, James told The Times that he should've seen it with "a mental health professional next to me," because scenes of the onscreen Winehouse with a crack pipe reminded him of that period in his life.

"It took me straight back to that time," he explained. "I probably sound normal now, but I still suffer from anxiety and depression, and it was like I had a day-long panic attack afterwards. I couldn’t sleep Friday night or Saturday night.”

Speaking with The Times about his late friend, who died from accidental alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, James added that "really all she wanted" was a "nice normal life."

"She hated fame and she knew what mattered,” he said.

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During the world premiere of the film in London last month, lead actress Abela, 27, told PEOPLE she was "really excited" for movie-goers to see her performance.

“It doesn't feel like it's me singing. You know, when you inhabit a character, you do what it is that you need to do," she said. “... And that's my job as an actor, to inhabit her in every corner of her life and to be able to tell the story at every single moment of her life.”

Portraying the Grammy winner in the Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed biopic taught Abela "so much" about her as a person, she added to PEOPLE. "I think more than anything just how singular of an artist she was, how authentic, you know, as a songwriter, one of the most incredible poets,” she said.

Related: Unseen Footage of Amy Winehouse Unveiled in a New Video for 'Tears Dry on Their Own' — Watch

The film's synopsis describes it as an "extraordinary story of Amy Winehouse’s early rise to fame from her early days in Camden through the making of her groundbreaking album Back to Black that catapulted Winehouse to global fame."

Back to Black also explores "many layers of the iconic artist and the tumultuous love story at the center of one of the most legendary albums of all time," per the synopsis.

Black to Black is set to be released in theaters on May 17 in the U.S.

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