Okay, we are LIVING for the hair and eye makeup here. We may have expressed a few skeptical thoughts as to this casting when we featured the on-set shots, but that poster is halfway there to making us believers. The trailer certainly didn’t hurt:
As we noted before, Aretha herself wanted this casting, which is a big reason to consider the matter settled. Jennifer Hudson can handle the material, both song and script. We can’t wait to see this – and we hope we live in a world where Jennifer Hudson gets another Oscars campaign with enough diva gowns and borrowed diamonds to choke a horse named Elizabeth Taylor. But the casting will never really feel a hundred percent right to us. We suppose we tend to think of Aretha as being so singular in talent and personality that it would be impossible to ever truly get a full picture of her across in one performance. She may wind up being like Elvis that way. So large in talent, with an infinitely long shadow cast by their star-making charisma, that no actress could hope to truly get her right. If anyone manages to best this casting in a different movie – and again; this trailer certainly makes the case for Hudson nailing it – we suspect she’ll be a complete unknown. We do tend to see Jennifer Hudson doing her best Aretha in all of the above. But honestly, there’s every reason to see this teaser and assume the film’s going to be fantastic. It certainly looks amazing.
And girl? If Mary J. Blige walks away with a best supporting nomination for the GENIUS casting as Dinah Washington? You will not hear us complaining when her Oscar campaign starts. We’re just saying.
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.
Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature film debut with Respect. Tommy is the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed, and is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees.
With a story by Callie Khouri (Oscar ® winner for Thelma & Louise) and Tracey Scott Wilson, and screenplay written by Tracey Scott Wilson. Wilson and Tommy have worked together creatively since the 2009 play The Good Negro written by Wilson, directed by Tommy at The Public Theatre. Wilson was a writer on FX’s The Americans which garnered her a Peabody Award as well as Emmy and WGA Award nominations.
Directed By: Liesl Tommy
Cast: Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin
Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.
In theaters December 2020.
[Photo Credit: Courtesy of MGM – Video Credit: MGM via YouTube.com]