The trailer (viewable above), which debuted Sunday night during the 2020 BET Awards, should put to rest any doubts about whether Hudson’s performance will do justice to the Queen of Soul’s legacy. In the teaser, she delivers a chilling version of the film’s title track and Franklin’s signature hit.
In addition to dramatizing a musical career spanning more than six decades, “Respect” delves into Franklin’s years of civil rights activism.
The film’s supporting cast is also an embarrassment of riches. Marlon Wayans plays Franklin’s first husband, Ted White, while Audra McDonald and Forest Whitaker co-star as her parents. Mary J. Blige and Gilbert Glenn Brown portray singer Dinah Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., respectively.
Franklin died in August 2018 at age 76. Earlier that year, Arista Records founder Clive Davis revealed that the diva herself had “anointed” Hudson, an Oscar winner for 2006’s “Dreamgirls,” to portray her in the movie.
“It’s always been my dream to play Aretha, and it’s actually happening,” Hudson told Ellen DeGeneres after her casting had been confirmed. “It blows my mind. I’ve always looked up to Aretha, and to portray her — I can’t even speak about it because it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a huge task.’”
“Respect” isn’t the only Franklin-related Hollywood project gearing up for release. Cynthia Erivo, who landed an Oscar nomination for her role in 2019’s “Harriet,” portrays the singer in National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha.” That limited series was originally slated to debut in May but was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Due out Christmas Day, “Respect” marks the feature-length directorial debut of Liesl Tommy, known primarily for her TV work on “Mrs. Fletcher” and “Queen Sugar.”