Cynthia Erivo 'very excited' to play Aretha Franklin, updates on 'Chaos Walking' (exclusive)


She has just played abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman in biopic Harriet and Cynthia Erivo is lining up another American icon for her next role.

The British multi-hyphenate will portray ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin in the third season of the National Geographic television series Genius.

Erivo told Yahoo Movies UK she is “very excited” to get going on the role, which is her next job after she is done promoting Harriet.

“I'm a little bit scared because I want to do it well, but excited,” said the 32-year-old star. “We're about to start preparing for it. We're in this [press tour] and then we're going to move right into that.”

Read more: David Oyelowo defends Erivo casting

Genius follows a different historical figure in each season, with Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush) and Pablo Picasso (Antonio Banderas) being the subject of the first two runs.

The series focused on Franklin is set to be the first ever authorised scripted take on the music legend, with the late singer’s estate fully behind the project.

“[The family’s support] means a lot because it's sort of like a seal of approval and they're happy with me,” said Erivo.

Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet' and Aretha Franklin in 'Amazing Grace'. (Credit: Focus Features/Neon)
Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet' and Aretha Franklin in 'Amazing Grace'. (Credit: Focus Features/Neon)

“The thing I wanted more than anything was to know that they were okay with me playing her because she was an incredible figure in everyone's life, not to mention theirs.

“So I want to make sure they are happy with who is doing it.”

Read more: Erivo discusses the pressure of playing Harriet Tubman

It’s another big historical role for Erivo, who made her name on the stage with a multiple award-winning turn in the musical of The Color Purple.

She said she felt “a lot of responsibility” about portraying Tubman in Harriet, which follows the character from slave to hero as she frees other slaves through the network known as the Underground Railroad.

Erivo added: “She was a small woman, but she had a strong presence both physically and mentally.

“There was something about her. I think it's important to know that someone that small can be that significant.”

Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet'. (Credit: Focus Features)
Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet'. (Credit: Focus Features)

The actor also gave an update on the long-gestating Patrick Ness adaptation Chaos Walking, in which she stars alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley as an ally of theirs in the battle against Mads Mikkelsen’s villain.

With director Doug Liman at the helm, the movie wrapped filming in 2017 and was originally due for release in March of this year.

Extensive reshoots took place, however, after an early cut of the film was reportedly deemed “unreleasable” by Lionsgate.

Erivo confirmed she was involved “a little bit” in the reshoots and said fans should be able to see the film in the near future.

She said: “I think it's coming soon. I think it's this year. I can't tell you which month, but I hope people get to see it eventually.“

Tom Holland Daisy Ridley on the set of 'Chaos Walking'. (Credit: Lionsgate)
Tom Holland Daisy Ridley on the set of 'Chaos Walking'. (Credit: Lionsgate)

The actor said she is still “processing” the experience, but added that she had “a lot of fun” making the movie.

Read more: Harriet director reveals link to Candyman reboot

“There was a lot going on all the time,” she said. “We were in Montreal shooting it and that was really interesting and I met amazing people.

“I'm curious to see how it has all come together because I know that a lot of people put a lot of work into it and there were a lot of hours that went into doing it.”

Harriet will be released into UK cinemas on 22 November, Genius airs in 2020 and Chaos Walking does not currently have a release date.

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