Following Aretha Franklin‘s tragic passing at age 76 from pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16, Jennifer Hudson — who was previously tapped by the Queen of Soul herself for the role — reportedly wants to get the Aretha biopic on the big screen ASAP.
“Jennifer is hoping to speed up the project before another production gets green-lit,” an insider told In Touch in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “She thinks this could be another Oscar-worthy performance for her, and she doesn’t want anyone to steal her thunder!”
In January of this year, record producer Clive Davis confirmed that a movie based on Aretha’s 1998 memoir, Aretha: From These Roots, was in the works and Jennifer, 36, had already been tapped for the coveted part.
“[Jennifer] stops any and every show she’s in. Her voice is truly incredible. When they ask, ‘Where’s the next Aretha? Where will the next Aretha come from?’ I say, ‘It’s her,'” Clive said at the time, adding that Jennifer had “been anointed by Aretha herself.”
One day later, Jennifer further confirmed the casting news via her Instagram. “And this, guys… I don’t even know what to say… look at God! #ArethaFranklin, you have no idea how humbled I am!” the American Idol alum wrote on the social media outlet.
According to E! News, the Aretha biopic has quietly been in development with MGM for the past seven years. Straight Outta Compton producer Scott Bernstein will allegedly produce the film with music producer Harvey Mason, Jr.
Back in 2011, Aretha told Billboard that she wanted Halle Berry to play her in the biopic but the Oscar winner was too worried about having to sing in the movie. “I told her, ‘No, no one ever expected you to sing, Halle. I never thought of you as a singer.’ A lot of movies come out where it’s the original artist and their songs are lip-sung to. That is how it would turn out if it’s Halle. If not — if, for instance, it’s Jennifer Hudson — she might sing one or two, but the rest would still be my original records. We’re definitely going to use the original records. I may re-record some things, too,” the late singer said at the time.
Aretha had also said Private Practice star Audra McDonald was once considered for the role. Though the film does not yet have a release date or title, the “Respect” singer had previously revealed the movie will be a “pretty straight-up” account of her life. “A chronological depiction of my advent from Detroit to New York as a young, aspiring singer,” Aretha said, adding that while fans may “already know” some details of her rise to stardom, the film will touch on “other things that are not known.” She added, “We’ve agreed on all the key points. There’s very little left now [to negotiate], very little. They have given me creative control and that’s all I wanted.”