Steve Harvey

Jennifer Hudson BECOMES Aretha Franklin in “RESPECT” in Theaters TODAY

Jennifer Hudson was fresh off her Oscar win for “Dreamgirls” when she was summoned to meet Aretha Franklin in 2007. The two singers had technically met before, when Hudson, freshly cut from American Idol, opened for Franklin at a show in Indiana. But this time was different: The Queen of Soul told Hudson that she wanted her to play her in a film.

It wasn’t a total surprise: Hudson had been briefed going in. And her admiration for Franklin was not a secret: Not only did she audition for Idol with Franklin’s “Share Your Love with Me,” she also said in interviews that she dreamed about playing her.

That meeting was just the beginning of what would be an almost 15-year journey to get “Respect” to the big screen. The film opens nationwide Friday.

A definitive Aretha Franklin-sanctioned biopic has been a long time coming, and Hudson’s wasn’t the only name floated over the decades. Halle Berry’s name came up, as did Audra McDonald’s. It would take another eight years for Hudson to even get a solid offer and, still, there was no script or director.~AP News