Nico—singer-songwriter, model, actress, German—will be getting the biopic treatment in Nico, 1988, focusing on the icon’s final years. Cosmonauta director Susanna Nicchiarelli will direct, and the role of Nico herself will be portrayed by Denmark’s Trine Dyrholm.
“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 buyers at the Rome Film Festival. “But is this how her life really went?”
The film will not focus on Nico’s ’60s heyday, appearing in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and performing with the Velvet Underground. Nor will it depict her solo career throughout the ’70s. Rather, it will focus on the last year of her life. Nicchiarelli, who also wrote the screenplay, intends to begin the film in 1987 with a 48-year-old Nico strung out on heroin looking to revitalize her singing career. “The entire film is constructed following the inspiration of Nico’s music,” explains Nicchiarelli in the statement. “Her performances and the lyrics of her songs…it will tell us more than any other dialogue or situation in the film.”
Dyrholm, who won this year’s Berlin Silver Bear for best actress, is also a singer-songwriter type, and will perform Nico’s original songs from that period.
Nico began her modeling career at 16 years old while living in Berlin. She did fashion magazines and television ads before moving on to acting in a small role in 1958’s La Tempesta. Later, she appeared on the cover of Bill Evans’ 1962 record Moon Beams before she began performing as a singer at New York’s Blue Angel nightclub singing standards. Nico met Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in 1965 and made her way into Andy Warhol’s experimental films, such as Chelsea Girls and Imitation Of Christ.
No matter of the success of the film, everyone involved will undoubtedly get their fifteen minutes of fame. This will be the first feature film to focus on Nico’s life.