The first trailer for Respect has landed. Jennifer Hudson is playing Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, in the movie, which will undoubtedly get some more hype when awards season begins. Hudson, already known for being a great singer, has stepped up her game in a major way for the upcoming movie and we’ve only seen a few minutes of footage at this time. There is a reason that Franklin handpicked the actress to play her on the big screen before her death.
Respect takes a look at the life of Aretha Franklin from singing in her father’s church choir to becoming one of the most famous voices of all time. The movie also charts some of the setbacks she faced along the way, which were abundant. The project has been in the works for a number of years, with Franklin on board until her death in 2018. At this time, Respect is still on schedule to open in theaters this December. It’s hard to tell what will happen with movie theaters for the rest of the year, but most major chains are planning to reopen in July.
Respect features Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, and Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler. Kimberly Scott takes on the role as Mama Franklin, while Saycon Sengbloh is Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, and Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin. Tate Donovan stars as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige plays Dinah Washington.
Aretha Franklin was a singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her singing and piano style have been widely imitated over the years by a number of artists. She found success in 1966 after signing to Atlantic Records, fueled by songs like “Respect,” “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” By the end of the 1960s, she was dubbed the Queen of Soul.
Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature debut with Respect. Tommy is the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed, and is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees. The movie features a story by Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise) and Tracey Scott Wilson, with a screenplay written by Wilson. Wilson and Tommy have worked together creatively since the 2009 play The Good Negro written by Wilson, directed by Tommy at The Public Theatre. Wilson was a writer on FX’s The Americans which garnered her a Peabody Award as well as Emmy and WGA Award nominations. Respect is produced by Scott Bernstein p.g.a., Harvey Mason Jr., and Jonathan Glickman, with Stacy Sher, Jennifer Hudson, Sue Baden-Powell, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Jason Cloth on board as executive producers. You can check out the Respect trailer above, thanks to the MGM YouTube channel.