The Aretha Franklin Biopic Was In The Works For Years and Other Facts About The Upcoming Film Starring Jennifer Hudson

The highly-anticipated biopic about the life and career of Aretha Franklin is scheduled for release this winter. A one-minute teaser dropped during the first-ever virtual BET Awards and the internet is buzzing over Jennifer Hudson’s portrayal of the musical icon. 

Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin
Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin 2015

Franklin wanted Halle Berry in the role

Franklin’s biopic has been in the works for some time, including prior to the icon’s death. Franklin spoke of her dreams for the film in a 2011 interview with Wendy Williams. Williams asked Franklin who she’d prefer to play her. 

Initially, Franklin wanted Halle Berry in the lead role, but Berry declined feeling she could not do the role any justice because she’s not a singer.

Halle Berry and Aretha Franklin
Halle Berry and Aretha Franklin | Mathew Imaging/WireImage

“I knew she couldn’t sing. I never expected her to and she was my first choice but not my only choice,” Franklin said of Berry. “I would like the person who’s going to play me to be more confident.”

When Williams suggested Queen Latifah, the outspoken Ms. Franklin shot back with a firm no. But, Franklin was receptive to Williams’ suggestion of Hudson. 

Jennifer Hudson isn’t relying on lipsyncing 

Hudson was handpicked by Franklin for the role before her passing in 2018. A powerhouse singer herself, Hudson isn’t lipsyncing the Queen of Soul’s megahits throughout the film. Instead, she’s dinging them all on her own, which for some could have been an intimidating feat. 

It wouldn’t be the first time Hudson lent her own vocals to a true story film. She performed in 2006’s Dreamgirls, 2013’s Black Nativity, 2016’s Sing, and 2019’s Cats. Hudson has also performed several tributes to Franklin, including one at a BET ceremony with Franklin in the audience. Hudson even had the honor to sing at Franklin’s funeral.

Source: YouTube

Production wrapped on the film in January and Hudson took to social media to gloat about her experience.

“It is officially a wrap on @respectmovie wrap it up, it’s done!” Hudson captioned the post. “Too overwhelmed to get into it right now but words can’t express how grateful I am to be chosen by the queen herself and to live out yet another dream! It was my honor, to honor the Queen’s request! The one and only Queen of Soul.”

Source: Instagram

Related: ‘Respect’: Jennifer Hudson Is Emotional As She Completes Filming Aretha Franklin Biopic

What the Aretha Franklin biopic will explore

According to The Hollywood Reporter, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. tapped the work of Oscar winner Callie Khouri and screenwriter and Tracey Scott Wilson, both of whom collaborated on the 2009 play The Good Negro. 

Distributed by MGM, the film will follow Franklin’s difficult journey to becoming a musical legend, while breaking down barriers and demanding respect within the industry along the way. 

Source: Instagram

The ensemble cast is starstudded, also starring Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess, Heather Headley, and Mary J. Blige to name a few.

Fans are excited for Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in new biopic

After the teaser dropped, fans couldn’t contain their excitement.

“JENNIFER HUDSON AS ARETHA FRANKLIN?! I CANNOT WAIT,” one wrote on Twitter. 

Source: Twitter

Hudson already has an Academy Award under her belt for her portrayal as Effie White in Dreamgirls. The musical is widely regarded as a semi-account of the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes. One Twitter user thinks Hudson’s role as Franklin will be sure to land her another award,

“Jennifer Hudson in the Aretha Franklin biopic trailer!!!! 2 time academy award winner coming soon methinks,” they wrote.

Source: Twitter

“Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha Franklin is gonna slap. I can’t wait for that movie to come out now, I just heard them talking about it on tv,” another Twitter user chimed in. 

“Jennifer Hudson gonna rock this Aretha Franklin movie,” wrote another

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is set to be released in theaters in December.