Sam Taylor-Johnson wanted to reclaim "agency" for Amy Winehouse in the biopic 'Back to Black'.

Sam Taylor-Johnson set out to reframe the narrative around Amy Winehouse in Back to Black

Sam Taylor-Johnson set out to reframe the narrative around Amy Winehouse in Back to Black

The 57-year-old director has helmed the film about the life of the tragic singer and wanted to place Amy's accomplishments – rather than her troubled life and untimely death aged 27 in 2011 – at the centre of the picture.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Sam said: "Everything that she had achieved was being eclipsed by the tragedy of how her life ended.

"In listening to her music, it was full of paradox and nuance in a way that seemed to have been neglected. I wanted to take her to a place where she had her agency back."

The 'Nowhere Boy' filmmaker met with the 'Love Is a Losing Game' artist's family before starting work on the biopic but insisted that she had to have total creative control on the picture.

She said: "It was taking on a big story with a lot of swirling interest and anxiety from people who hold her dear. I just didn't want to have to have people to answer to. I had to be able to tell the story the way I wanted."

Taylor-Johnson and casting director Nina Gold opted for Marisa Abela to take on the role of Amy and the former knew instantaneously that she was the right choice for the part.

She recalled: "I saw Marisa look up and look into the lens, and I literally just took a breath and sat back. She hadn't even said anything. And I thought, 'It's her.' I just knew.

"I felt people would believe her."

Marisa spent countless hours in singing lessons to perfect Amy's distinctive vocals and says it would have been "disappointing" had she not given musical performances in the film.

The 27-year-old actress said: "The story we're telling is through this music.

"So it would feel disappointing to do all of the emotional work for a scene and then get to the singing and open my mouth and cut to a track that has an emotional disconnect because it is recorded in the studio."