Unsurprisingly, an Aretha Franklin biopic is not exactly a new idea – it’s one that’s been tossed around for many years now yet has failed to get off the ground. As far back as 2008, Aretha herself was speaking out about the project, at the time expressing reservations about a non-chronological approach to telling her life story. Well flash forward four years and again it’s Aretha banging the drum about the biopic, and if she’s to be believed then it sounds like it’s a lot closer to becoming a reality than ever before.
“The movie is being directed by Taylor Hackford,” Aretha told Glamour. “We are fine-tuning the treatment now. The treatment has four acts. He has finished all four. We’re now reworking some of it where it needs work: ‘A little more drama, tell me something else, what else happened here? We need a little more of this, a little more of that.’ We pretty much agree though on the actors and actresses that we like. Each name that I put out there, he likes. The names he put out there, I like. We have a happy medium there.”
And so who are some of those actors and actresses that Franklin and Hackford (whose next feature is the Jason Statham vehicle “Parker”) agree on? Well despite initially thinking of Billy Dee Williams, Franklin would now like Denzel Washington to play her father (whose church she started singing in as a child) after he was suggested by Hackford – “If he put a little more weight on and glasses, he could handle it,” she said.
And as for the lead role, Aretha has three names in mind for who she’d like to see play her on the big screen. “We have Jennifer Hudson, we have Halle Berry, and Audra McDonald. That’s the last three,” she said – and it seems like the key for Aretha is whether they can do justice to her soul-infused voice. It’s unclear whether those are the final three on their wish list, or the final three who want to be involved. It does seem like positive news though for anyone hoping to see Aretha’s life story on the big screen sooner rather than later.