Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) TIFF 2014 Review: 'Top Five' is Chris Rock's Funniest Movie in Years - If Not Ever TIFF 2014 Review: 'Top Five' is Chris Rock's Funniest Movie in Years - If Not Ever What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) TV: New Corrections Officer for 'Orange, Another ABC Drama for Shonda Rhimes, SNL's 1st Black 'Weekend Update' Anchor TV: New Corrections Officer for 'Orange, Another ABC Drama for Shonda Rhimes, SNL's 1st Black 'Weekend Update' Anchor 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now Black Kids from Ferguson Speak Out in 'Hey White People' Comedic Video Educating Whites on Racism Black Kids from Ferguson Speak Out in 'Hey White People' Comedic Video Educating Whites on Racism 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Audra McDonald Responds To Being Aretha Franklin's Favorite To Play Her In A Biopic

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 9, 2013 at 7:46PM

“It would be an honor to play her... Other than that we leave it to fate. Who knows.”
10
Audra McDonald

“It would be an honor to play her... Other than that we leave it to fate. Who knows.”

Audra McDonald responds (for the first time, as far as I know) to Aretha Franklin's desire to have her play the songstress in her long-in-development biopic.

So, unlike Halle Berry, who was Franklin's first choice for the part, but who wasn't interested, Audra seems to think it's a job worth having... that is, unless she's just being polite in her above response to Broadway.com, who asked her about it.

Recall in our last post on this, last fall, in an interview posted on Glamour magazine's website, Franklin revealed that the movie is being directed by Taylor Hackford, who produced and directed Ray. And when asked who would play her in the film, she said the following:

I went to see Audra in Porgy and Bess, and I was very impressed with her dramatic ability. She was terrific... And Jennifer [Hudson] had voice. Audra has voice. The question is whether or not Audra can cross over into soul. You know, she does Broadway magnificently. But can she get over into soul is the question.

So, as of that last interview in November, she seemed like she'd narrowed her choices down to Jennifer Hudson and Audra McDonald, since they both can sang, although she seemed more keen on Audra, but wasn't sure whether Audra can "cross over into soul." I'd assume there'd be a relatively quick way to find that out. Just bring her in for a screen test and listen to her sing some of Aretha's tracks. I would think they would've done that already, if there was interest, which there clearly is.

Aretha also said in that interview:

We [she and Hackford] are fine-tuning the treatment now. The treatment has four acts. He has finished all four. We’re now reworking some of it where it needs work: ‘A little more drama, tell me something else, what else happened here? We need a little more of this, a little more of that.

And with regards to actors who are being considered for the project, she said:

We pretty much agree though on the actors and actresses that we like. Each name that I put out there, he likes. The names he put out there, I like. We have a happy medium there.

And one of those actors who they both like is Denzel Washington, who they apparently want to play Aretha's father in the film (a choice she's had since we first alerted you to this project 2 or 3 years ago).

He [Taylor] mentioned Denzel first, and I was thinking of Billy Dee [Williams]. That’s who I was thinking of. And he mentioned Denzel, and I said ‘Hmm...’ And when I thought about Malcolm X, and what he did with that, I said, ‘Yes! He could do it. He could handle it. If he put a little more weight on and glasses, he could handle it.’ [...] My dad, yeah. That’s the way it opens. It opens in the pulpit with my dad speaking on "The Eagle Stirs Her Nest." The equation is a mother and her children. That’s the way the movie is going to open.

The Eagle Stirs Her Nest was a 1961 sermon preached by her father, Rev. C. L. Franklin.

She also stated that Dorothy NorwoodKaren Clark and La Shun Pace (all award-winning gospel singers), had all already been cast to play the Clara Ward singers in the movie (Clara Ward being the queen of gospel music, and among those that would influence Aretha's music and vocal style, as well as a longtime lover of Rev. C. L. Franklin, Aretha's father, with whom the Ward singers toured extensively).

And finally, when asked what her vision for the film is, Aretha said:

Accuracy. The facts. Let’s present the facts, and be as creative as possible with them.

I think we can all agree with her on that point, if nothing else.

In the past, we've joked about the uncertainty of this movie, wondering if it was indeed a real project. But, it looks like it is; I don't think she'd name drop like this - specifically, saying Taylor Hackford was attached as director, if he wasn't. 

But don't be surprised if an official announcement is made in the near future, including names mentioned here.

This has been "in the works" for about 3 years now, probably almost as long as this site's been around. Franklin is quoted as calling the project "an epic tale with probably the most starring and supporting roles since Roots."

Well, if Audra is cast as Aretha, that could be epic... If her above comment is genuine (and not just her being polite), she's definitely interested. And she's on Aretha's short list, so make it happen. No word from Jennifer Hudson on whether she's interested in the role.

This article is related to: Audra McDonald


Shadow & ActNewsletter