PAYING RESPECT TO Aretha
SURELY IT’S A daunting task to portray Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s Dreamgirls Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson. It helps to be hand-picked for the new biopic, Respect, by the queen herself, unlike songstress Cynthia Erivo, who starred in National Geographic’s Genius:
Aretha. The Franklin family dissed the March TV series because producers refused to consult them.
Before her death in 2018, Aretha was deeply involved in Respect to ensure it was authentic, however difficult it must have been to revisit having her first child at 12, two failed marriages and ongoing struggles with obesity, chain-smoking and alcoholism.
Penned by Thelma & Louise writer Callie Khouri and Tracey Scott Wilson, who wrote The Americans,
Respect is rounded out by famous faces portraying other famous faces: Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s father, the Detroit minster and civic leader with the “million-dollar voice;” Marlon Wayans as her abusive first husband; and Mary J. Blige as “Unforgettable” singer Dinah Washington. Respect hits theatres in August, because COVID delayed its release, but early reviews say the biopic is well worth the wait. —
Aretha Franklin in Rome, 1968 (top); Respect movie poster with Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul (inset)