*”Respect” is the new MGM film that covers the life of music legend Aretha Franklin. It stars Academy-Award winner Jennifer Hudson, written by “Nashville” creator Callie Khouri and directed by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy.
The film wrapped shooting right before the Covid-19 lock down in 2020. EURweb correspondent Jill Munroe visited the set and spoke with Hudson and costume designer Clint Ramos to get exclusive behind-the-scenes details about the production.
Hudson shared that she “learned a great deal about Aretha in the process of making the film, even though they had been friends for years and discussed her playing the role for at least 15 years.”
Aretha would always give her advice, but “to learn that she really was coming from a place of experience where she had lived through those things” was eye-opening for Hudson.
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When asked what the one thing Aretha wanted to convey in the film, Hudson shared that Aretha wanted to know how Jennifer “would play her.” The Oscar-winning star responded with a question of her own, asking, “how do you want to be played?” Hudson also shared that she learned to play piano for the project.
“Respect” covers Franklin’s life from the early 1950s through the late 70s. To bring that time to life, Tony-winning costume designer Ramos was brought on. Ramos had 80 costumes custom-built for Hudson. Some of those include hand beading.
Ramos said, Franklin “adapted her clothing and fashion. Her looks always evolved. She was not subject to trends. She used clothing to express herself as an artist.”
For scenes that were emotional or required stunt doubles, the costumes were doubled and, in some instances, tripled in case something was damaged while filming. Gowns in those days had limited movement – all Aretha’s gowns were couture.
Ramos and his team sourced materials from vintage shops and rented from costumes house in Los Angeles, Georgia, and New York. His favorite piece to design was a pale pink gown encrusted with pearls that Franklin wore in Amsterdam. It was also Aretha’s favorite.
The day I visited the set in Atlanta, filming took place at the Infinite Energy Center, doubling as Madison Square Garden in 1968. One thousand extras were in costume for the scene.
Hudson will be singing several classics from the Queen of Soul, including; “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Respect.”
Skye Dakota Turner portrays young Aretha at the age of 10 in 1952. Forest Whitaker plays the Rev. C.L. Franklin. Marlon Wayans plays husband-manager Ted White, and Marc Maron plays Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler. The film also features Audra MacDonald as her mother Barbara, Mary J Blige as singer Dinah Washington, Tate Donovan as music producer John Hammond, Heather Headley as gospel singer Clara Ward, Tituss Burgess as James Cleveland, Saycon Sengbloh as Aretha’s sister Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Aretha’s sister Carolyn Franklin and Lodric D Collins as Smokey Robinson.
“Respect” will be in theaters on August 13.