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Aretha Franklin On Casting Biopic: “I Think Halle Berry’s Gonna Get It”

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 14, 2011 2:56 AM
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Aretha Franklin's talking about her biopic again... I'm sure you all are getting tired of hearing about it, but don't shoot the messenger. I come bearing gifts :)

Anyway, this time The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Ms Franklin at an event celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute, and, as I would've done if I were there, asked her about the progress of her biopic, among other things of course; specifically about who will play the diva in the film.

Her response to THR on Monday night was “I think Halle Berry’s gonna get it!”

Ok, so let's back up a minute and remind ourselves of all that's transpired since we first started covering the project. This shouldn't be news to most of you.

Halle Berry has been her #1 choice forever now; however, when word started to really spread about Aretha's interest in Halle for the part, which ineveitably got back to Halle, you'll recall that Ms Berry shut down the rumors, saying, “I can’t sing! If I could carry a tune, I’d consider it. Someone should tell Aretha that I can’t do her justice.”

Aretha then replied publicly soon after, saying, "[I] never expected (Berry) to sing. It was more about her likeness, and the fact that she has (acting) experience. But I guess she wasn't confident in her ability to lip-sync."

And then, about a month ago, in an interview with Oakland County, Michigan's Daily Tribune news paper, Aretha said that she'd since had a chat with Halle about the part, and that Halle was indeed interested in playing Aretha, since Aretha made it known that she wouldn't have to sing.

From that interview:

But my personal choice at this point is still Halle Berry, who I saw at the Oprah (Winfrey) event and told me, "Aretha, I want to play you. I didn't know that I wouldn't have to sing." I said, "No, no one ever expected you to sing, Halle. I never thought of you as a singer."... A lot ot movies come out where it's the original artist and they're songs are lip-sung to. That is what it would turn out if it's Halle.

Fast-forward to this week - Monday - and she's now saying rather confidently that she thinks Halle's "gonna get it."

There's been no word from Halle or her camp since that mid-August interview, so one can only assume that Aretha isn't just blowing smoke, and Halle really is the main candidate for the part. I figured if this was all bullshit, Halle or someone from her posse would've spoken up by now, just like she did the last time Aretha spoke her name in relation to the film.

I contacted her manager for a comment, but no response yet. I may not get one, but if I do, I'll be sure to share it here. Although, I'm surprised that none of the major outlets with more direct connections and clout than we do, haven't reached out to Halle or her people to verify Aretha's claims.

What's puzzling here is that, as I noted previously, it won't be a birth-to-death biopic, but will instead zoom in on Aretha's early years as a "young, aspiring singer" as she put it; Halle is in her mid-40s, and while she still looks damn good for a 45-year old woman, I don't quite see her playing an 18 to 30 year old Aretha Franklin - the years when Aretha released her first single, through her most popular period in the late 60s early 70s.

If anyone has seen the script for this, holla! :)

So there ya have it folks... not really sure what to make of all this and how seriously to take any of it. I'll be looking out for another statement from Halle Berry... like I said, if I hear back from her manager, I'll share what I learn here.

I think Halle Berry’s gonna get it!” :)

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  • karin | October 16, 2011 6:17 AMReply

    Aretha is in denial about her LIKENESS to Halle! lol

    Halle knew she wouldn't have to sing! she didn't sing in Dorothy Dandridge!.... & she won an Emmy for that role...
    somebody is lying!!! lol
    I thought Jennifer Hudson would be a better match than HALLE! Nicole Brown would be better

    Dont do it Halle!
    i read her book it was boring..... Aretha didnt tell anything.

  • urbanautuer | September 16, 2011 9:34 AMReply

    Terri J.Vaughn,anyone?

  • Geneva Girl | September 15, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    Kai, +1.

  • Miketlow | September 15, 2011 6:59 AMReply

    Aretha wants a box office draw plain and simple...Who ever plays her in the movie had better bring and not BS around like people do when they do remakes of Aretha's music!!

  • Janelle | September 15, 2011 4:09 AMReply

    This is getting sad because we all know the only reason Aretha wants Halle to play her is because it's Halle freakin Berry. And poor Halle doesn't want the part but she doesn't want to disrespect the queen of soul either. Aretha should quit playin and hire someone more realistic to play her...she already made things uncomfortable by dragging Halle into this.

  • Lynn | September 15, 2011 2:29 AMReply

    *long deep sigh* .........but WHY?????

  • Reggie | September 15, 2011 1:20 AMReply

    This is just ridiculous. Someone tell Aretha to stop this mess. There is nothing about Halle that would make her a good choice. She's too old. She looks nothing like Aretha. She can't sing. She's half-white. She played Dorothy Dandrige (and poorly).

    Why can't they cast someone that makes sense like Jennifer Hudson or Fantasia.

    Maybe they need to wait until Aretha passes away and make the movie right.

  • blksista | September 15, 2011 1:18 AMReply

    Aretha only wants Halle not only because it is Halle fricking Berry, but because this is how Aretha fantasizes herself resembling.

    Remember the controversy about Aretha letting her breastesses loose some time ago when she was heavier? The only women who could rock that kind of look are women who are smaller. Aretha refused to see reason.

    Wrong body type, wrong coloring, wrong choice. Even if Halle was dubbed. She has no voice.

    Someone needs to reason with The Queen.

  • punkrockamber | September 15, 2011 1:09 AMReply

    Aretha is showing her Diva side. She has the right to--she's Aretha for goodness sake. But for the sake of a decent film (not a direct-to-dvd movie), she needs to back down and let an actual casting director or the film's director take over. Halle Berry is pro and has enough intuition and respect for her craft to know she's not right (age-wise or local-wise) for this part. There are so many young incredible Black actresses that would do this part justice.

    Next, B.B. King announces Denzel Washington to play him as an 18 year old for his bio pic.

  • Freda | September 14, 2011 9:48 AMReply

    I love Halle and respect her for her accomplishments. I might not be interested in seeing her play Aretha because we know Halle is not a singer. I prefer real and I don't think the ratings will be high if Halle plays Aretha.

  • Brit | September 14, 2011 7:00 AMReply

    Aretha only wants Halle Berry because Halle can't sing, so Aretha can put in her own voice and use Halle's image to support her own vanity. But the problem for me is that Halle has already played Dorothy Dandridge and after that performance should not be considering playing another icon from the black community. Let someone else do it for god's sake Halle is all wrong for the part and she has already said that she does NOT want to play it.
    If the pay off is big enough she just might change her mind though. What are the odds?

  • Sonny | September 14, 2011 4:32 AMReply

    Kelly Price?

  • Sonny | September 14, 2011 4:30 AMReply

    Aretha, The Queen of Soul, Who We Love So Much...Please Cast Somebody More Realistic for Example; Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Anika Noni Rose, Naturi Naughton. Remember Aretha Wasn't Always Big So Size Isn't The Issue But Halle? Come On Now. Halle is Amazing But Even She Doesn't Really Want The Part

  • kai | September 14, 2011 4:12 AMReply

    aretha needs an intervention

  • Anwar | September 14, 2011 3:57 AMReply

    "I] never expected (Berry) to sing. It was more about her likeness"

    Quit playin' Aretha...

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