Amy Winehouse's Longtime Friend Slams New Biopic

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Amy Winehouse’s longtime friend and former roommate, Tyler James, is not pleased with the new biopic about the late singer.

James, who had been friends with Winehouse since they were children, told The Times in an article published Friday that he doesn’t like “Back to Black,” which hit theaters in the U.K. last month.

“There is this sense of Amy being coherent even when taking drugs, but there was so much suffering,” he told the British paper. “The film avoids the uncomfortable. I didn’t like it, and it was hugely triggering for me.”

James said that he believes the biopic spends too much time on Winehouse’s relationship with her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. The former couple, whose tumultuous and drug-fueled relationship often made headlines, wed in 2007 before divorcing two years later.

“It focuses way too much on Blake,” James said, adding that the “Rehab” singer “wouldn’t have liked the film.”

“She was very real. She was also very funny and intelligent,” he said.

“Back to Black,” based on a screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh, is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. The film stars British actor Marisa Abela as Winehouse.

The biopic was partly inspired by Winehouse’s hugely successful 2006 album — also titled “Back to Black” — and her “deeply personal lyrics,” according to a film description.

Winehouse, a six-time Grammy-winning artist, died of accidental alcohol poisoning in 2011. The musician’s battle with drug addiction often played out in front of the cameras.

Amy Winehouse and Tyler James photographed together in 2005.
Amy Winehouse and Tyler James photographed together in 2005. Tim Whitby via Getty Images

Elsewhere in his interview with The Times, James, said that he thought Abela “was very good” in the film, but that “essentially this was a person made to look like my friend, was dressed as my friend, with Amy’s make-up and clothes, but it wasn’t her.”

He also accused the film of depicting an inaccurate chronology of events in Winehouse’s life, as well as leaving out the impact her friends had on her, The Times reported.

James, who has spoken publicly about his own past battle with addiction, said that he wished he had a “mental health professional” next to him as he watched the film.

“It took me straight back to that time,” he said. “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.”

James wrote a book about his friendship with Winehouse in 2021 titled, “My Amy: The Life We Shared.”

“Back to Black” is set to hit theaters in the U.S. on May 17.

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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