The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan and Skye Dakota Turner will be joining Jennifer Hudson in MGM’s upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect.
The biopic is set to focus on the Queen of Soul’s rise to fame in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as chronicle her abusive marriage.
Speaking about the casting, the film’s director, Liesl Tommy, said:
I am thrilled with the incredibly talented cast we have assembled for our film, and I’m so proud that Ms. Franklin entrusted us to tell her story and to share it with the world. As a storyteller, hers is the kind of story we all dream of telling. Her music has inspired me since I was a little girl, and the milestones of her life and career have shown us all how to strive and thrive. To have this powerhouse group of actors — and the phenomenal talent of Jennifer Hudson in this iconic role — means we have the chance of making this film as transcendent as her glorious life and legacy.
Forest Whitaker (whose recent credits include City of Lies and Godfather of Harlem) will be playing the role of Franklin’s father, a Baptist minister and popular preacher who was unfaithful to his wife. Marlon Wayans (whose recent credits include Marlon and Sextuplets) will be playing the role of Ted White, Franklin’s first husband, whom she married when she was 19 and who was abusive. Audra McDonald (whose recent credits include Beauty and the Beast and The Good Fight) will be playing the role of Franklin’s mother. Saycon Sengbloh (whose recent credits include Scandal and In The Dark) will be playing the role of Erma, while Hailey Kilgore (whose solo acting credit is The Village) will be playing the role of Carolyn. Tituss Burgess (whose recent credits include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Dolemite Is My Name) will be playing the role of Reverend Dr. James Cleveland and Marc Maron (whose recent credits include GLOW and Joker) will be playing the role of legendary Atlantic Records music producer Jerry Wexler. Skye Dakota Turner will play the role of a young Aretha Franklin.
The film will feature the songs like ‘Respect’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘Think’ and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman’.
Jonathan Glickman and Adam Rosenberg are overseeing the project on behalf of the studio.