Aretha Franklin still wants Halle Berry to play her in biopic. Who are we to judge?

Aretha-Franklin-Halle-BerryImage Credit: Getty Images; Mark J. Terril/AP ImagesAretha Franklin isn’t ready to let go of her dream of Halle Berry playing her on film. On the Golden Globes red carpet, Oscar winner Berry said she’d consider the role — if she could carry a tune. She doesn’t feel she could do Aretha justice. Franklin got back in touch with Wendy Williams, upon whose show she initially revealed her casting pick, and Williams read the following telegram from the Queen of Soul on air: “I would’ve liked Halle Berry to portray the older Aretha in the upcoming biopic of my life based on my memoir, Aretha: From These Roots. She was my first choice, everything’s subject to negotiation, and she shouldn’t underestimate her own talent. There are a number of other leading ladies out there that can definitely handle the role. I never expected Halle to sing. She’s an actress, not a singer. Many actors have portrayed vocalists by lip-synching to the artists’ original recordings.” 

Williams said Franklin was right, and pointed to Angela Bassett’s Oscar-nominated turn as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. (Berry herself lip-synched when she won an Emmy for 1999’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.) But if Aretha has to go to Plan B, Williams begged her to consider casting Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) — and if not Hudson, to look at Oscar nominees Queen Latifah (Chicago) or Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Who gets your vote? Does it matter to you if the person portraying a singer doesn’t actually do their own vocals? It’s an interesting question. Would Jamie Foxx (Ray) and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) have their Oscars if they hadn’t sung the parts? For Foxx, it was a total immersion into Ray Charles. You’re tempted to say Witherspoon’s vocals as June Carter were less essential than Joaquin Phoenix’s as Johnny Cash, but there’s no denying it contributed to their chemistry, which was essential to the film. The only reason I would push for Berry over Hudson is because, perhaps, it means Franklin is going to allow the script to be more revealing than that 1999 memoir. “Throughout the strangely prim book, Franklin glosses over unpleasant events, accentuating the positive to a degree that’s almost risible,” EW wrote in its review. A broken home, teen motherhood, legendary troubles with men, beefs with family members and fellow stars — that’s her story, too.

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  • Fred

    Halle did play Zola Taylor in Why Do Fools Fall in Love in 1998 and did a FABULOUS job in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge in 1999 that won her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
    Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
    Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

    if they can find a way to make it work;Halle should consider it

  • the_girl

    Having already seen Halle play Dorothy Dandridge I would like to see someone else play Aretha. I love the idea of Queen Latifah or Taraji P. Henson doing it. Either one would get my vote. Jennifer Hudson could handle the vocals of it but perhaps this wouldn’t be so great for her acting career.

  • whatevs

    Aretha has some ego on her to want such a beautiful actress to play her. There are other talented, black actresses out there; this is clearly about her looks.

    • Chantal

      Hahaha, that’s what I was thinking too!!

  • Jen

    Halle would have a blast packing on the weight to play Aretha.

    • Cinders

      Halle won’t be able to put on weight. She is diabetic, so weight is a serious issue. She would have to wear a fat suit.

    • Fantomex

      So would Jennifer Hudson, who just lost weight.

  • tiacheryl

    Yeah, I’d love for Halle Berry to play me too, but unfortunately Mo’nique would probably be a more realistic choice.

    • Tina


  • Michael

    I agree, maybe she should also consider looking into her own family, and see whom would be a great candidate to be lady Aretha. I would like to see someone that can match Aretha’s soul, and someone that matches her style. I really doubt Halle Berry would play a definitive role.

  • Teri

    Poor delusional Aretha

  • Dee Jones

    If Aretha is in charge of this movie, it`s not gonna work. This film will just show the good side of her life. Aretha has had some troubles in her life but I bet you money either she won`t address them or sugar coat them. That`s why it`s taken so lond to make this film, because she has to have script approval. Nother thing not everyone should have their life story made into a film, there`s got to be some drama going on and interesting. Also I bet Aretha won`t address or gloss over the men in her life. From what I hear she`s had a tough time with the men in her life and probably don`t want to address them. This won`t be a complete and full fledged biopic.

  • Uh….

    Jamie Foxx did NOT sing his own vocals in “Ray;” he lip-synched to the original recordings.

    • Josh

      That’s just what I was thinking too…

      • Josh

        Also, I always felt that Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Johnny Cash was much better than Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. I though Foxx did a Ray Charles impersonation, and Phoenix was actually acting, and I think doing his own singing really enhanced that (along with Witherspoon, of course).

      • Chance

        I remember seeing an interview with Regina King where she mentioned that Jamie would sing on set, and there were instances in the film where they would merge the voices near the beginning of the song. She pointed to the “Hit the Road, Jack” scene between the two as an example this.

  • dctoronto

    @Dee…You are so right…that autobiography is so sanitized and skips over so much.
    A few year’s back I saw Aretha interviewed and she said Fantasia was her first choice. This became fairly common knowledge. Now she’s saying it’s always been Halle. These type of contradictions are very typical of Aretha. There are a lot more of them in her book.

    • Janis

      I like Jennifer Hudson to play Arethea Franklin. I think she could be sassy and good in character don’t under estimate Jennifer. I think she could pull it off. Let’s get some fresh blood because I believe Jennifer is up for the challenge.

  • patrick dokpesi

    Let aretha give it to jennifer but if halle can pull it off no problem will love to see d film wen it comes out

  • m1

    The Mo’Nique suggestion wasn’t too bad. But I would be fine if Berry or Hudson played her, too.

  • ‘k

    I can actually sort of see it. Aretha wasn’t always heavy. And she was attractive when she was young. Maybe not Halle Berry attractive. But Halle could tone the looks down a notch.

  • Jonny-s

    The ONLY one qualified to play Aretha is Jennifer Hudson. Halle Berry? Aretha is delusional?

  • Dee Jones

    Like I said previously, some biopics should not be made. Not saying by no means that Aretha`s story is not interesting even fascinating I`m sure, but Aretha is gonna sanitizes to suit her which will lead to an uncompelling biopic. That Aretha for ya! Still love ya though.

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