Jennifer Hudson Gets Into The Skin Of Aretha Franklin
“You will win an Oscar for playing me, right?” He told Aretha Franklin at a very young Jennifer Hudson , who had just won his first Oscar for his role in the film ‘Dreamgirls’, the award – winning 2006 musical inspired by the career of The Supremes.
Of course, he accepted . It was not possible to say no to the great lady of soul, who died 3 years ago from lung cancer on the same date as Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, had done 41 years before, on August 16 .
In this way, Hudson, who became known in a popular American ‘talent show’ in which she professed her admiration for Franklin, went from fanatic to close friend and, now, to being the actress who has put herself in his shoes in ‘ Respect ‘ , the biopic about the artist recently released in the United States. The only one who ‘Lady Soul’, an extremely reserved person about her complicated private life , gave the green light before dying .
Up to three wills were found hidden in Franklin’s Michigan home. It is estimated that the singer amassed $ 70 million during her career, but her legacy extends far beyond that.
About forty albums (with millionaire sales) and 18 Grammy Awards seem to speak for themselves of the success that that young woman born in Detroit reaped and who with 10 years already played the piano like angels.
However, journalists and directors have always been fascinated by unraveling the mysteries of a facet that Franklin strove to hide : his privacy.
Many were the demons that persecuted her in life ; a stormy childhood marked by the death of her mother and a controlling father led her to become an adult as a child. At the age of 13, he was already rubbing shoulders with gospel greats, such as Sam Cooke or Clara Ward, but he also fell into a sex spiral, often with industry artists who took many years out of him. At 15 he already had two children of unknown parents.
Later she married Teddy White, a pimp who took charge of her career and abused her physically and psychologically. Although Aretha was always known for her unstoppable presence on stage , which she filled with her powerful voice, her turbulent past and early adolescence had turned her into a woman full of insecurities that she hid behind her music and those certain airs of a diva that she acquired over time and that made her extremely competitive and distrustful.
He also suffered from mental health problems his entire life, maintaining an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, drugs and food.
From fan to ‘Lady Soul’
Jennifer Hudson, who rose to fame after being a finalist on ‘American Idol’ in 2004, now faces a new challenge with ‘Respect’, where she faces all the demons that Aretha lived in her odyssey to become the queen of soul .
The actress suffered her own personal tragedy in 2008, at the height of her career after winning the Oscar, when her ex- brother-in-law shot and killed her mother, brother and nephew .
“I needed to be in a specific place and to have been through what I went through in my life to be able to play [Aretha],” Hudson admitted during a Los Angeles screening before the premiere. “At least that’s how I feel right now,” he added.
Chosen in life by Aretha herself, the pressure falls on Hudson, who receives praise for her performance in a film that, according to critics, does not finish shining.
Hudson shows his great vocal skills – which he already showed in ‘Dreamgirls’ singing the mythical ‘And I’m Telling You I’m not Going’, covered ad nauseam -, he learned to play the piano for the role and sings live some of Aretha’s most iconic songs , among which are ‘(You make me feel like) A natural woman’ and, of course, ‘Respect’.
An expected ‘biopic’
In addition, his friendship with the artist taught him that “it was very regal and prestigious, although it protected itself in some way. It was very private, but very proud, ” he analyzed. It was also defined that way by David Ritz , a journalist who has written two biographies about Franklin.
“For Aretha, pain was the most private part of a person,” admitted the author, whose second text, ‘Apology and martyrology of the queen of soul’ (Kultrum Books), did not have the approval of Aretha for revealing too much about his private life.
The new ‘biopic’ about Franklin comes full of expectation to see how it shows the dark side of the queen of soul. In life, the artist tried to censor various attempts to document her life. More recently, the family protested against ‘Genius: Aretha’ , a National Geographic miniseries about the artist in which they complain that they did not feel heard or respected.
Unlike the series starring Cynthia Erivo, ‘Respect’ has had the close collaboration of most of the Franklin family , with their fourth child, the youngest of all, being the only one who has been against it. The premiere of ‘Respect’ in Spain is scheduled for September 24.