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Why Cats Alum Jennifer Hudson Says Making The Movie Was An ‘Emotional And Heavy’ Experience For Her

Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella in Cats
(Image credit: (Universal))

Jennifer Hudson’s angelic voice and powerful acting is coming back to the big screen next weekend with the release of Respect, a biopic about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Hudson’s last movie was also led by music, but became rather infamous. Remember Tom Hooper’s Cats? The adaptation of the popular Broadway musical horrified audiences, which was especially due to its distasteful CGI cats. Almost two years removed from the universally panned movie, Hudson is sharing her experience as Grizabella, which she says was "emotional and heavy."

Jennifer Hudson had a show-stopping number in the film, as she belted out the musical’s most iconic song “Memory” and became the eerie cat world’s “Jellicle Choice.” The singer and Dreamgirls actress had this to say about her time on Tom Hooper’s movie:

That was… phew. It was heavy and emotional the entire time. Because that’s all Grizabella did. It was about being rejected. She was at her lowest point. And I had to carry that. I sang it live every time. The snot that was coming out, that was real. Every inch of it. And I was like, ‘If people only knew. The depth of that emotion.’

Hudson’s scene is beautifully performed, and she gives it her all as the abandoned kitty who wistfully sings about her past before being banished from the weird cat cult Cats seems to focus on. She absolutely crushes those notes, but we’re also a bit distracted by the oddly placed CGI around her face for the performance. Hudson continued to Empire Magazine:

For me, Grizabella was almost too emotional. I was like, ‘Well, how many tears can she cry?’ Do you understand the depths that I have to go to to be able to give you what is honest emotion? As an actor, the trick is keeping that to yourself.

Jennifer Hudson had some challenges with Grizabella in terms of how outwardly emotional she was in the film (especially while belting out those notes). Relive the memory:

Like I said, Jennifer Hudson was absolutely giving it her all and it’s chill-inducing but, as far as the production design is concerned, there’s no forgiving the Razzie winner. Thankfully, Hudson has a good outlook on it, and no defunct CGI cat character can take away from her incredible talent.

The actress’ next role was blessed by the iconic singer who she is playing, the late Aretha Franklin. Before the Queen of Soul passed away, Hudson met with Franklin and she was chosen to play her in the biopic that would take 14 years to complete. At the time Hudson signed on to play the icon, she had just won her Oscar for Dreamgirls.

Respect hits theaters on August 13 and check out what other movies are coming out this year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 movie release schedule.

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.