"I can't even begin to put it into words," Jennifer Hudson said Wednesday on Good Morning America of playing Aretha Franklin in Respect. "I do not take it lightly"

By Jen Juneau
May 19, 2021 10:48 AM
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The full trailer for Respect is here!

Jennifer Hudson's long-awaited Aretha Franklin biopic is offering fans a fresh glimpse at Hudson's portrayal of the late soul legend.

In the nearly 3-minute-long trailer, scenes from Franklin's childhood play out before Hudson, 39, takes over as the singer's adult version.

"I need a change. I want to sing what I want to sing," she says, sitting down at the piano and beginning to write and play what would eventually become Franklin's arguably most famous song, "Respect."

Subsequent scenes show Franklin's rise to superstardom and personal struggles along the way, in which she fights to find and retain her voice. At one point, after being asked whether she has "lost [her] mind," the singer replies, "Maybe I found it."

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Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect
| Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

Hudson appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday to talk about her 15-year-journey toward bringing Franklin's story to the silver screen, revealing they had their "first conversation" about the project "right after I won my Oscar for Dreamgirls" in 2006.

"So you can only imagine how I feel now, like, 'Whoa, it's here? It's done?' " she said. "To see it actually manifest and for her to choose me is … I can't even begin to put it into words. I do not take it lightly. It's a dream come true. I don't want to sound cheesy, but it is."

Hudson said she and Franklin, who died in 2018 of pancreatic cancer at age 76, "spoke weekly" about her life. And "in the midst of those conversations, she taught me more about life while in the midst of teaching me about her life," the American Idol alum added.

"When I got to portray her, that's when I realized she was really speaking from experience," Hudson went on. "And it wasn't just anyone telling you anything, but to know those were words of wisdom, coming from the Queen of Soul herself. And it helped me embody the story that much more."

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Jennifer Hudson (L); Aretha Franklin
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic; Michael Stewart/WireImage

RELATED VIDEO: Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson Reveals the First Thing Aretha Franklin Said to Her When They Met

While she was apprehensive at first about playing such "an icon" and "legend" that she has "the utmost respect for," Hudson said on GMA, "I told myself, 'If she said I could [play her], I guess I can. I better try.' "

"I remember when we first met, the very first meeting, we sat at the table and she said, 'You shy or something?' I was like, 'Well, I am sitting at the table talking to Ms. Aretha Franklin!' " the actress and singer recalled.

"Those nerves are passion. ... You can't just wake up in the morning and think you're gonna be Aretha Franklin. It does not work like that, and I'm highly aware of it," Hudson added. "So I still do my homework, even after filming. Like, 'Okay, I gotta go back to Aretha school.' I feel like she put me back in music, which I still am in, to this day."

Respect premieres in theaters Aug. 13.