First look at Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in biopic 'Respect'

Ben Arnold
Contributor

The debut trailer for Aretha Franklin biopic movie Respect has landed, giving us our first look at Jennifer Hudson as the soul icon.

It will chart the rise of Franklin from the humble beginnings singing in her father's church choir to becoming the undisputed Queen of Soul.

Helmed by stage director Liesl Tommy, who's directed the likes of Jessica Jones and The Walking Dead, it boasts an all-star cast, with Franklin grappling with her early struggles to make it in the music business.

Jennifer Hudson in Respect (Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM)

Forest Whitaker plays Franklin's father C.L. Franklin (with Skye Dakota Turner as the young Aretha), the baptist minister who became the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, with Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Franklin's early manager and wheeler-dealer first husband.

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Elsewhere, Broadway star Audra McDonald plays Aretha's mother Barbara Siggers Franklin, Queen Latifah is gospel legend Mahalia Jackson, Mary J. Blige is singer Dinah Washington and Marc Maron plays producer Jerry Wexler.

Franklin herself was consulting on Respect right up until her death in August, 2018. The project is said to have been in development since the publication of her memoir, Aretha: From These Roots, in 1998.

The UK poster for Respect. (Universal)

“We spoke many times a week, some weeks,” Harvey Mason Jr., producer of Respect, told Variety in 2018. “I knew she had been resting and recovering from different treatments, so some days she had more energy than others. But I definitely did not have any early indication that she was going to pass away. In the last conversation I had with her last week, she was really optimistic and talking a lot about the movie — and talking a lot about how excited she was to get back on the mic. ‘I just can’t wait to get back on the mic!’ — she was constantly saying that; that was her thing.”

Here’s the film’s official synopsis: Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: TOP OF THE POPS Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN (Photo by Ron Howard/Redferns)

The movie is set for release in UK cinemas on 22 January, 2021.