Nico Biopic Explores Velvet Underground Singer’s Turbulent Life
Nico, best remembered for her brief stint with the Velvet Underground and her association with artist Andy Warhol, is the subject of an upcoming biopic. Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli will explore the singer’s turbulent later years in the film, Nico, 1988. Nicchiarelli will focus on Nico’s life and career after achieving fame in the 1960s singing with the Velvet Underground, as one of Warhol’s “superstar” Factory models and acting in films like Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
“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?”
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.