Jennifer Hudson Details the "Anxiety" She Felt After Being Hand-Picked by Aretha Franklin to Play Her

By Samantha Bergeson Aug 02, 2021 6:30 PMTags

Jennifer Hudson was the "Natural Woman" to play Aretha Franklin—and even the Queen of Soul thought so!

Hudson revealed that Franklin hand-picked her to take the lead role in biopic Respect, opening in theaters on Friday, Aug. 13. The Oscar winner shared with E! News' Daily Pop correspondent Erin Lim Rhodes on Aug. 2 that she used to speak with Franklin on a weekly basis prior to her passing in 2018. 

"I definitely remember our last call," Hudson reminisced. "I miss hearing from her. The last thing we spoke about was what she'd been eating and I was telling her about my son cooking. And he's like, 'Mother, is that Aretha Franklin on the phone?!' I was so glad he was there to share that moment." 

Yet, being cast to portray music titan Franklin came with its own set of mixed emotions for American Idol alum Hudson.

"It gave me the encouragement to get through it, but it's still an inspiration because I didn't want to let her down," she explained. "It's personal to me, for that reason. One minute it's like, oh my gosh, I'm so excited, and the next second it's a bunch of anxiety."

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Hudson's passion for music ultimately led to her seamless transformation into Franklin—something that she hopes translates to audiences.

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

"While filming, I said, 'I know we all have respect for Aretha, but by the time we get to the end of this film, I'd love for them to have a newfound respect for her,'" she concluded. 

Watch the inspirational interview above!

Respect premieres in theaters on Friday, Aug. 13.