For a moment on Nov. 5, it appeared as if Aretha Franklin had driven a pink Cadillac back from the afterlife and onto the streets of New York City. In actuality, it was Jennifer Hudson, who was photographed filming scenes from Respect, the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic. In the new photos from the set, Jennifer, 38, looks exactly like the Queen of Soul, especially when she gets close with her co-star, Marlon Wayans. The 47-year-old actor portrays Aretha’s first husband, Ted White, and while the kiss they shared during a scene was sizzling, the real eye-catcher was – well – Jennifer!
The Dreamgirls star didn’t just raid Aretha’s wardrobe. From the pictures of this latest film shoot, Jennifer has done her homework to study Aretha’s mannerisms, her expressions – the total package. Sure, everyone knew that the American Idol alum could sing, and everyone knew that she could act. But this? It looks like Jennifer has taken her skills to a whole new level.
These pics with Marlon Wayans come just days after fans got their first sneak peek of Jennifer as Aretha. In the first pictures, taken in NYC on Nov. 2, Jennifer was a doppelganger for Aretha while wearing a tan trenchcoat, her hair done in an up-do. The scenes she and Marlon filmed reportedly take place in 1966, about a year before she would release her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” a song that would top the charts and transform Aretha into a pop culture icon.
Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018 due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Before she passed, Aretha herself chose Jennifer Hudson to play her in Respect. “They both sing with a lot of emotion,” producer Harvey Mason Jr., a close friend of Aretha, told USA Today. “They both sing with a lot of range and power. It’s really hard to compare anyone with Aretha, though. I think the good thing about Jennifer is that [it] was Aretha’s pick to play her. … There was a lot of discussion about a lot of people, but Aretha was adamant that it be Jennifer.”
In the wake of Aretha’s passing, Jennifer paid tribute to her idol. “I have no words,” she captioned an Instagram shot that showed her playing “Let It Be” by Aretha. “So I will let the Queen say it! But I will say [that] while teaching me about your life, [you] taught me so much about life and schooled me in mine. I will never forget those teachings.”