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Image / Living / Culture

Watch Jennifer Hudson demand respect as Aretha Franklin in new biopic trailer


by Sarah Finnan
20th May 2021

Respect movie / Instagram

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Jennifer Hudson is set to channel one of her icons this summer, stepping up to the plate as the Queen of soul in a new Aretha Franklin biopic aptly called ‘Respect’.

Cinemas have been closed for several long months now, but with any luck that will all change in the coming weeks and it sounds like there will be plenty of new material to keep us coming back for more… you know, in case the promise of salty, buttered popcorn wasn’t enough to lure you in. 

Continuously adding to the list of things we want to see, which coincidentally is very music heavy already, the likes of Dear Evan Hansen, In The Heights and the Steven Speilberg West Side Story remake have all made us very excited to get back to the pictures. As has the first trailer for the new Aretha Franklin biopic which dropped yesterday. 

Based on a screenplay by Tracey Scott Wilson, the musical drama is simply titled Respect – an homage to one of the Queen of Soul’s most popular songs. Directed by Liesl Tommy, the movie marks her first feature film debut. The first Black woman to be nominated for a Tony in the Best Direction of a Play category back in 2016, she’s already proved that she’s more than capable though, so viewers can rest assured that the story is in good hands. 

Chartering Franklin’s meteoric rise to fame, the movie follows the young gospel singer’s life from early childhood to international acclaim. Boasting quite an all-star cast, Jennifer Hudson steps up to the plate as Franklin – an excellent casting choice, at least if Hudson’s own impressive vocals are anything to go by – with the likes of Mary J Blige, Forest Whitaker and Marc Maron all featuring throughout too. 

Filming on the movie wrapped last spring just before the onset of the pandemic, but with cinemas closed for the large majority of the past year, its release was pushed out from January until later this summer. 

Not the first biopic to delve into the singer’s past, the trailer comes after National Geographic released their own series on the soul superstar earlier this year. Titled Genius: Aretha, their take on the story saw Cynthia Erivo assume the role of Franklin – a role she said she was “honoured” to play. The series was met with some criticism though, particularly from Aretha’s own family who lodged complaints against the show for not involving them, asking fans to boycott the series as a result. 

It’s unlikely they’ll feel similarly about the new biopic though, especially considering that Hudson was handpicked for the job by Aretha Franklin herself. You’d be hard-pressed to get a more glowing endorsement than that. You can watch the trailer below. 

Respect will arrive in cinemas August 13.

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