Nico, (Christa Päffgen Nico) the late German chanteuse who was among Andy Warhol’s muses and sang with the Velvet Underground, is getting the biopic treatment. The 1960s cult pop culture figure will be played by Denmark’s Trine Dyrholm, winner of this year’s Berlin Silver Bear for best actress.
A new biopic on Velvet Underground singer Nico will explore the performer’s turbulent later years. “Most people think, as Andy Warhol once said, that after her experience with Velvet Underground and the Factory – and after having had sex with most of the rock stars of those years – Nico simply ‘became a fat junkie’ and disappeared,”Nicchiarelli said in a statement pitching the film to international buyers at the Rome Film Festival. “But is this how her life really went?”
Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli, known on the festival circuit for her standout debut “Cosmonauta,” will start shooting Nov. 7 in Italy on the film, which is about Nico’s later years, titled “Nico, 1988.”
Besides Dyrholm, who took the Berlin statuette for her role as a wronged wife in Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune,” the film’s pan-European cast includes Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca (“4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 days”); Britain’s Karina Fernandez (“Happy Go Lucky”); Belgium’s Fabrizio Rongione, a regular in the Dardennes brothers’ films; France’s Sandor Funteck (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”); and promising young British stage actor Calvin Demba in his screen debut.
The movie begins in 1987 with a heroin-addicted Nico, played by Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, touring Europe as a solo artist at age 48. Backed by a new manager and accompanied by her son Ari, Nico attempts to get clean from drugs as the tour winds on. The screenplay is based on interviews with both Ari and Nico’s then-manager Alan Wise. “The entire film is constructed following the inspiration of Nico’s music: her performances and the lyrics of her songs,” the director said. “It will tell us more than any other dialogue or situation in the film.”
Nico contributed lead vocals on three tracks (“Femme Fatale,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “I’ll Be Your Mirror”) on the Velvet Underground’s debut LP, 1967’s The Velvet Underground & Nico, which ranks Number 13 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. After exiting the band that same year, Nico launched a solo career, releasing six albums over the next 18 years. She released her final album, Camera Obscura, in 1985.
In April, former Velvet Underground member John Cale marked the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico by performing the LP in its entirety at Paris’ Philharmonie, joined by Animal Collective and the Libertines, among others. On May 26th, Cale will perform the album again in Liverpool, England at open-air venue Liverpool Waters, Clarence Dock, Pitchfork reports. A third and final show will take place in New York. Additional dates and guest performers will be announced at a later date.
“The entire film is constructed following the inspiration of Nico’s music: her performances and the lyrics of her songs,” Nicchiarelli’s statement says. “It will tell us more than any other dialogue or situation in the film.”
The film will also use flashbacks and dreamlike sequences.
Dyrholm, who besides being an actress is also a singer-songwriter, will perform Nico’s original songs from that period.