‘Her spirit was in the movie’ -- Aretha Franklin’s loved ones respond to biopic after Royal Oak premiere

‘I’m sorry that Aretha is gone, but her legacy lives on’

Jennifer Hudson sits down with Local 4 News
Jennifer Hudson sits down with Local 4 News

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Jennifer Hudson, the star of the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” paid a visit Sunday to Metro Detroit.

Read: Star of Aretha Franklin biopic comes to Metro Detroit for private screening of ‘Respect’

Hudson portrays Franklin, who was involved in the film’s development until her death in August 2018. She was chosen for the role by Franklin herself.

“Respect” was shown to those closest to Franklin at the Emagine Royal Oak before it hits theaters Aug. 13.

This movie is an emotional journey. Whether you knew Aretha personally or were just a fan of her music, it really embodies who she was as a person from start to finish.

“I miss hearing from her,” Hudson recalled. “I used to hear from her weekly.”

On the red carpet before the premiere, she spoke with Evrod Cassimy about her final conversations with the late Queen of Soul.

“We talked about my son because he loves to cook like she loves to cook,” Hudson said. “Now I ain’t gonna tell you everything, but I’ll give you little bits and pieces. As if she could taste it right there in that very moment. And she sang to me on the phone.”

“Respect” includes a lot of singing with Hudson taking on the classic Aretha Franklin songs. The film takes the viewer on a journey from a young Aretha getting her start singing in church, the ups-and-downs in her life along the way, and ending with the filming of her movie and 1972 album “Amazing Grace.”

The movie includes a lot of singing of course with Jennifer Hudson taking on the classic Aretha songs. It takes you on a journey from a young Aretha getting her start in music singing in church, the ups and downs in her life along the way, ending with the filming of her movie and album Amazing Grace.

Franklin’s friends and fans gave “Respect” rave reviews and said Hudson’s portrayal of the icon captured who the Queen of Soul was.

“It felt that her spirit was in the movie,” said Janis Rogers. “It felt like a concert, but yet I know that the story was real.”

“It was an amazing movie and I’m still trying to figure out my emotions from the movie,” said Vivian Pickard. “I cried a little bit. I laughed a little bit.”

The entire theater was closed for the special premiere in the place Aretha called home. It was a movie premiere fit for a queen.

“I’m sorry that Aretha is gone, but her legacy lives on,” Rogers said.

The movie opens to the general public on Aug. 13.

More: Aretha Franklin


About the Authors:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.