Watch: 'Respect' Sneak Peek Shows an Electrifying Jennifer Hudson

Tuesday July 20, 2021

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in "Respect"
Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in "Respect"  

MGM released a sneak peek featurette of the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect," starring an electrifying Jennifer Hudson as the iconic Queen of Soul, that will be released on August 13.

Between dialogue scenes that show Franklin as both a young girl (played by Skye Dakota Turner) and an adult (Hudson), the featurette includes Hudson singing electrifying covers of "Think" and "Respect."

"There are so many layers to Aretha Franklin," explains Hudson. "She's an artist. She's a woman. She's an icon. But the biggest impact on her were the people in her life."

These include her father C.L. Franklin (played in the film by Forrest Whittaker); her mother Barbara Franklin (Audra McDonald); her first husband Ted White (Marlon Wayans); record producer Jerry Wexler (Marc Maron); Reverend Dr. James Cleveland (Tituss Burgess); and Dinah Washington (Mary J. Blige).

The film is directed by Liesl Tommy, the South African stage director making her film debut; and with a script by playwright Tracey Scott Wilson.

"When you're a star, there's a certain expectation of excellence. And so a big part of the journey in the film is how she negotiates professional and personal relationships with people that she loves," said Tommy.

One of those is her first husband Ted White, whom she married when she was 18 in 1961 and divorced him in 1969. Wayan says o being in the film: "Aretha Franklin's journey is inspiring because trying to find your individuality, it's the hardest thing in the world to do. So it's a special movie about a special woman, and I just feel so blessed to be a part of this."

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker concurs that Aretha's art came from her personal struggles. "Aretha was able to express very profound emotional things because of the struggles she was going through."

Multi-Tony-winning Broadway star Audra McDonald says of Franklin: "When she sang there was something that was so fundamentally connected to the human spirit, you were moved."

And Grammy winner Mary J. Blige recalled how she felt hearing Franklin sing: "When I was a little girl, I heard a lot of Aretha in my home, and I was always moved by her voice and how it gave me chills."

Screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson added that delving into Franklin's personal life was the only way to capture her greatness as an artist: "To get to the joy is to show the struggle. And the only way the audience understands how extraordinary she is is to show what she overcame."

Watch the featurette below: