Jennifer Hudson is getting ready for the world to see her as Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic, Respect. ET’s Kevin Frazier spoke with the Oscar-winning actress and singer on the black carpet at the film’s premiere, where Hudson talked about honoring Franklin’s life and the final song request the Queen of Soul had for her.
“It’s a celebration and it’s all the hard work that’s been put in it, the heart, and I’m just glad to see people come out at a time like this and celebrate her and talk about her life because she gave us so much through her music and her life,” Hudson told ET. “What better way to honor that than everyone to come together to celebrate her life.”
For Hudson, it was the hardest thing to narrow down the songs to sing and use in the film, let alone pick her favorite Aretha song.
“Oh God this is the hardest question. I will have to go with ‘Ain’t No Way,'” Hudson shared. “It had to be in the film, but that was the hardest thing to do, was narrow down the songs. It’s Aretha Franklin!”
She continued, “I talked to her right before she passed, and I still can’t get over that and she sang to me the Isaac Brothers on the phone, she said, ‘Now Jennifer, that’s the Isaac brothers.’ I said, ‘Yes ma’am, I know,’ so that was one of the last things I got to hear her do, was sing that.”
In another one of their last conversations, Franklin shared one of her last requests for the American Idol alum, who has paid tribute to the late singer many times since her passing.
“I got to tribute her a lot, and one of her last requests was for me to sing ‘Skylark,’ which I am going to do and there are a couple of others, but I cant think of them right but I know that’s one of the standards and I’m in love with the standards now so I have to singer the standards,” she explained. “I love ‘Accentuate The Positive,’ ‘This Bitter Earth.’ I am a fan, OK? So, I have discovered so much more music during this whole process.”
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When asked about the defining moment in the soon-to-be 40-year-old actress’ life, Hudson called it a dream that she is so grateful to see manifested.
“You know, all I can say is, it’s only a story God could write. And I’m just sitting here witnessing it. I’m in awe of it. This was a dream of mine. to see it manifest is just beyond. I’m grateful for it,” Hudson says before launching into a prayer for her big birthday. “I’m gonna be 40 really soon, so I pray at 40 I’m gonna be the happiest I’ve ever been, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen. I’m done.”
Respect hits theaters Friday, Aug. 13.
Tune in to tonight’s episode of Entertainment Tonight for more of ET’s interview with Jennifer Hudson.
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