Jennifer Hudson Talks Portraying Aretha Franklin in ‘Respect’ Featurette

Jennifer Hudson discusses her upcoming role as Aretha Franklin in a new behind-the-scenes featurette for Respect, the upcoming MGM biopic on Franklin’s life.

Through interview segments and clips from the movie, as well as rehearsal videos, the featurette documents Hudson’s journey to embodying the Queen of Soul, beginning from when Franklin herself first chose the actress to portray her on film. In addition to performing Franklin’s songs live on camera, Hudson learned how to play piano and took choreography lessons to try to replicate Franklin’s stride and physicality.

“She became the Queen of Soul,” screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson says, “and the journey is, how does she become it artistically and personally?”

“When I look back on my career, Aretha was like the blueprint of it all,” Hudson says, emphasizing her personal relationship with the legendary artist. “It was like it was destiny in a way.”

The featurette also includes interviews with Respect director Liesl Tommy, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, music producers Stephen Bray and Jason Michael Webb, and Franklin’s cousin and backup singer Brenda Franklin-Corbett.

Hudson collaborated with “Natural Woman” co-writer Carole King on an original song for the biopic, “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home),” released last week. Respect arrives in theaters on August 13th.