Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha Franklin in first trailer for ‘Respect’

By Darel Jevens

In a scene in the trailer for the much-awaited new Aretha Franklin biopic, the singer is seen as a girl sitting at a piano alongside her mother (Audra McDonald), who advises her, “What’s most important is that you are treated with dignity and …”

Guess what word comes next.

It’s “Respect,” a movie in the works long before Franklin’s death in 2018. The Queen of Soul had offered extensive suggestions about the script and handpicked Jennifer Hudson to play her.

Hudson, the pride of Englewood, is heard in the trailer giving her takes on the Franklin anthems “Think” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and in one sequence she works on making Otis Redding’s “Respect” her own by dropping in repetitions of her nickname: “Ree, ree, ree, ree …”

“Respect” is scheduled for an Aug. 13 release that will be in theaters only and won’t stream, unlike many other high-profile films during the age of COVID-19.

“My dream for the film — and for Aretha and her legacy — was to create a piece of cinema that feels like a classic you have to see in a movie theater,” director Liesl Tommy said in a studio statement. “You have to see it on a big screen because her life was so big it deserved that.”

“Respect” is the screen debut of Tommy, a Tony Award nominee for directing the Broadway play “Eclipsed.” It’s the year’s second major screen bio of Franklin, following the March premiere of “Genius: Aretha,” starring Cynthia Erivo, on the National Geographic channel.

Also seen in the trailer are Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s father, Mary J. Blige as singer Dinah Washington, Marlon Wayans as manager Ted White and Marc Maron as producer Jerry Wexler.