ROME — 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.
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.
“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,” said Nicchiarelli in her statement for the film being pitched to international buyers at the Rome Film Festival’s Mia market. “But is this how her life really went?”
Nicchiarelli will seek to shed light on what actually happened once the glamorous times were over for this enigmatic figure, whose career was launched by her appearance in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” The biopic will start in 1987 with Nico, aged 48, strung out on heroin but going on tour in Europe as a soloist with a new manager and getting off drugs as the tour progresses. She is with her son Ari, who she claimed was conceived with Alain Delon, though Delon denied paternity. Nico died in 1988 while on vacation with Ari on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.
Nicchiarelli’s screenplay draws on interviews with Ari and with Alan Wise, Nico’s manager in those days.
“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.
“Nico, 1988” is being co-produced by Italy’s Vivo Film and Belgium’s Tarantula, with financing from Rai Cinema, Belgian fund Wallimage and Italy’s new Lazio International Fund.
The shoot will start in Italy, then move to Belgium and Germany.
Nico’s life was the subject of a 1996 documentary directed by Susan Ofteringer titled “Nico-Icon.” “Nico, 1988” will be the first feature film to tackle this topic.