Aretha Franklin’s Final Words to ‘Respect’ Actor Jennifer Hudson Revealed

by Matthew Memrick

Actor Jennifer Hudson revealed the late singer Aretha Franklin’s final words near the anniversary of the singer’s death.

Hudson said she chatted with Franklin days before her passing on Aug. 16, 2018. Franklin died at age 76.

“The last time I heard her voice was Aug. 8,” Hudson told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s odd that here we are again, on Aug. 8, three years later. Right after we spoke, they told me she was no longer competent enough to speak, but she sang to me on our call, and we talked about my son and his cooking. She loves to cook, and so does he. I sent her a video of him cooking. I truly miss hearing from her.”

Handpicked for the role by Franklin, Oscar-winner Hudson portrays the Queen of Soul in the upcoming film “Respect.” 

Aretha Franklin Handpicked Hudson For Biopic

Aretha Franklin chose Hudson for her Oscar-winning role in 2007’s “Dreamgirls.” The two women became longtime friends and would speak nearly every week.

Director Liesl Tommy talked about directing Hudson in her film debut at the premiere.

“I got to make a movie about my hero, Aretha Franklin,” Tommy said. “(I got to do it) With actors that I’ve admired and with Jennifer Hudson, who is like a sister. I also feel I’m at my most artistically powerful because everything I wanted for this movie is in this movie.”

Last week, Hudson took a quick trip to Detroit to visit many of Franklin’s family members. There, she watched the film with the family and caught up with their lives. 

Hudson told The Hollywood Reporter that “it was a beautiful moment.” 

“They took me to her childhood home, and we sat on the porch and reminisced,” Hudson said. “When people are icons and legends, people sometimes forget that there’s a person under there with a family. It was good to connect with them and acknowledge that.” 

Film Receives Mixed Reviews

The film’s early reviews like Hudson’s performance. The movie, on the other hand, has not gotten as much love. It may not give enough credence to the many hardships she had early in her life.

Associated Press reporter Mark Kennedy called it “a meandering, unfocused look at the first three decades of Franklin’s life will also leave you saying a little prayer for the filmmakers. After all, if you come for the queen, you best not miss. This is a miss.”

Meanwhile, The Wrap wrote that the movie does a great job in weaving all of the parts of Franklin’s life together. Elizabeth Weitzman writes that “Liesl Tommy’s Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” was created as an original film, but it works best when envisioned as a Broadway-style jukebox musical.” The reviewer seems to say that despite the film’s shortcomings, Hudson’s performance and songs keeps the movie afloat.