Jennifer Hudson Will Earn Your 'Respect' in Fiery First Trailer for the Aretha Franklin Biopic: Watch

Jennifer Hudson Aretha Franklin
Courtesy of MGM

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in RESPECT.

Hudson discussed the long-gestating project with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night (Dec. 19).

Jennifer Hudson has been waiting practically her entire career to play Aretha Franklin on the big screen. On Friday (Nov. 20) the world finally got its first look at JHud as the Queen of Soul in the upcoming biopic Respect. In the 44-second clip, we see a backlit Hudson dressed in a sparkling lamé dress singing an a cappella version of Franklin's signature 1967 hit as the camera zooms out and she hits a big note accented by the movie's title in giant golden letters.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Liesl Tommy-directed film also stars Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marc Maron, Tate Donovan, Tituss Burgess and newcomer Sky Dakota Turner. Nashville's Callie Khouri wrote the script for the movie that follows Franklin's rise to fame from a childhood singing in her father's choir to her global fame as one of the greatest R&B vocalists of all time.

Hudson, currently co-starring in the big screen adaptation of Cats, chatted about the Franklin biopic on The Late Show on Thursday night (Dec. 19), confirming to host Stephen Colbert that the Queen hand-picked her for the role way back in 2007, after Hudson won an Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls. "Which is mind-blowing," Hudson said of the meeting the two singers had 15 years ago in New York, with the notoriously detail-oriented Franklin making her final decision on the matter while Hudson was performing on Broadway in a 2015 revival ofThe Color Purple.

"She said, 'Don't say anything,' and I said, 'Oh, I won't say anything. Whatever you say don't do I'm not gonna do,'" Hudson told Franklin. The two spent time together before Franklin's death in 2018, including at a 2014 BET Honors event paying tribute to Aretha, when the "Respect" singer showed up unexpectedly during a rehearsal to check out what was supposed to be a surprise homage to her career. 

"We're in rehearsal at the venue and Aretha shouldn't have known anything about it and all of a sudden she bursts inside of the rehearsal space and everybody stops like, [eyes moving side-to-side]," Hudson said. The pair sat down and had a long talk that night and Franklin pretended to leave, only to have Hudson realize that she was just standing right outside the door still listening to the rehearsal. 

Franklin died on Aug. 16, 2018, at age 76 as a result of a pancreatic tumor; Hudson sang "Amazing Grace" at the funeral service.

Watch the Respect trailer below.


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