The cast list for the Aretha Franklin biopic titled, “Respect,” is filling up with a star-studded cast including Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans and two-time Oscar nominee Mary J. Blige.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Broadway stars Audra McDonald, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, and Marc Maron are among others who have boarded the MGM production that foresees Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul. The list continues with Tate Donavan, Tituss Burgess, and newcomer Skye Dakota Turner.
Tony winner, Liesl Tommy, will direct the drama, which follows the Queen of Soul’s rise to fame in the 1960s and 1970s, also covering her abusive marriage. Hudson will star as Franklin with Whitaker taking on the role of her father, a Baptist minister and popular preacher who was unfaithful to his wife.
The publication detailed the role of Wayans, who will play Ted White, Franklin’s first husband, whom she married when she was 19 and endured a volatile relationship with.
McDonald will stand as her mother. Sengbloh will play her elder sister, Erma, while Kilgore will play her sister Carolyn.
Blige will play Dinah Washington, as Burgess plays Reverend Dr. James Cleveland and Marlon as the legendary Atlantic Records music producer Jerry Wexler, according to reports.
Turner, who also was cast as Young Anna Mae in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway will play young Aretha.
“I am thrilled with the incredibly talented cast we have assembled for our film, and I’m so proud that Ms. Franklin entrusted us to tell her story and to share it with the world,” Tommy says of her cast. “As a storyteller, hers is the kind of story we all dream of telling. Her music has inspired me since I was a little girl, and the milestones of her life and career have shown us all how to strive and thrive. To have this powerhouse group of actors, and the phenomenal talent of Jennifer Hudson in this iconic role, means we have the chance of making this film as transcendent as her glorious life and legacy.”
Producers will be Tradecrafts’ Scott Bernstein (Straight Outta Compton) and Harvey Mason Jr., a music producer who has worked with both Hudson and the late great Aretha Franklin.
Featured songs will be “Respect,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “Spanish Harlem” and “Young, Gifted and Black.” Others will be, “Ain’t No Way;” “Precious Lord,” “There’s a Fountain Filled With Blood,” “Amazing Grace” and “Chain of Fools.”
The Hollywood Reporter adds Jonathan Glickman and Adam Rosenberg are overseeing the project on behalf of the MGM studio.