Aretha, “The Queen of Soul,” Franklin has chosen Halle Berry and Denzel Washington to star in her forthcoming biopic. Berry would portray Franklin in the film, that some folks find kind of strange that she didn’t pick a singer to portray her. Back in 2007, Franklin spoke about Jennifer Hudson being perfect for the job backstage at that year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.
Aretha sees Denzel portraying her dad the Rev. C.L. Franklin, a legendary minister, national evangelist, pastor and civil rights leader. Entertainment lovers will remember that Halle and Denzel shared a stage at the Oscars in 2002 when she won Best Actress for Monster’s Ball and he won Best Actor for Training Day. This would be their first movie together. Franklin envisions Oscar nominee Terrence Howard as Smokey Robinson, Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood as her brother, Cecil, and Nia Long as her sister Erma too. Franklin has had conversations with Berry, Washington and Howard, who reportedly are enthusiastic about the project.
Halle played a singer once before onscreen, in the 1998 biopic Why Do Fools Fall in Love? with Larenz Tate. She took on the role of Zola Taylor, the only female member of the doo-wop group The Platters. According to BET.com, “The Queen of Soul” has long said she wants Halle Berry to play her in the film based on her New York Times Best-Selling autobiography Aretha: From These Roots. According to BV Newswire, she’s letting it be known once again now that she’s in the middle of finalizing negotiations with the actors that will be in the film.
Music aficionados and fans of Franklin are happy her story is coming to the big screen. However, several online chats are opposed to Berry taking the lead, as well as to Aretha having creative control. Facebook wall comments have discussed the lack of insight and detail Franklin would omit in the film, as she did in her book. Others question if Halle even has the chops to sing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Names that have been put out there instead of Halle include: Hudson, Mo’Nique, Queen Latifah, Gabourey Sidibe, S. Epatha Merkerson (of Law and Order and Lackawanna Blues), Jill Scott, Fantasia (although we all agree this is reaching), and Lisa Nicole Carson (who hasn’t worked in years). All the aforementioned actresses would do an impeccable job, and are more liken to Franklin’s physical presence, especially in this latter day.
Halle’s next two releases are Dark Tide, a thriller centered on a diving instructor who returns to deep waters after a near-fatal encounter with a Great White shark; AND The Surrogate, about an infertile couple that hire a young college girl to be implanted with the couple’s last fertile egg. The couple realizes the surrogate is insane when she’s mid-term with their child. Berry also has five other films in development that have been announced. Among them is Tulia, which will be directed by John Singleton.
Denzel’s next two films are Safe House, a group of villains destroy a CIA-operated safe house, and the facility’s young house-sitter must work to move the criminal who’s being hidden there to another secure location; AND Unstoppable, an action flick about a rail company that frantically works to prevent a freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas from wiping out a city. Washington also has seven films in development. One is a remake of Uptown Saturday Night, that will also star Will Smith, and be released through his company Overbrook Entertainment.
Whatever happens and who ever stars in the Franklin biopic at the end of the day, I just hope it’s Funky Fresh!