'Respect': Aretha Franklin biopic adds Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans and more to cast

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — The forthcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul, has tapped some heavy hitters for the cast.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess and Mary J. Blige have all been added to the film.

They join previously announced cast members Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Marc Maron, Tate Donovan and newcomer Skye Dakota Turner.

Whitaker has been cast as Franklin’s father, The Reverend C.L. Franklin, while McDonald will play Aretha’s mother. Wayans will play Ted White, Franklin’s abusive first husband, whom she married at 19. Blige will play legendary singer Dinah Washington, while Burgess will play The Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, known as “The King of Gospel Music.”

Turner, who played young Tina Turner in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, will star as young Aretha. 

As previously noted, the biopic stars Hudson as Aretha and will follow the singer’s rise to superstardom, from her childhood singing gospel in her father’s church to her emergence as one of the most powerful and influential voices in soul and R&B. The movie will also examine Franklin’s impact on the civil rights and women’s movements.

The film, penned by screenwriter and producer Callie Khouri, will be directed by Liesl [LEE-suhl] Tommy, who in 2016 became the first black woman ever to receive a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Play, for Eclipsed.

Respect will also include a variety of Aretha’s most famous songs, including her classic rendition of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and “Think.”

A release date for Respect has yet to be announced.

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