“If I could carry a tune, I’d consider it,” Berry to E! News recently. “Someone should tell Aretha that I can’t do her justice.”
Smart move Halle. But what was Aretha thinking?
Halle Berry is a tempting pick for anyone casting their life story — she’s a beautiful, Oscar-winning, Hollywood star. However, fact is Halle’s not cut out to play everyone, and she knows it. So why didn’t Aretha Franklin get the memo?
No doubt it’s a bit of vanity and delusion that’s driving her one-woman campaign trail for Halle Berry. Aretha very clearly wants star power and glamour to drive her film, but casting the wrong actress in the lead role could lead to damaging effects on her reputation.
The best biographical films have a sense of honesty about them — they show the ups and downs of the main character, their struggles and triumphs. Most importantly, when cast properly, the actor embodies the iconic person they are portraying, blurring the line where Denzel ends and Malcolm X begins, or fooling us all into believing that Jamie Fox is really a talented blind blues musician. There is no amount of make-up, costuming, lip-syncing, heck, even CGI graphics that could convince an audience that Halle Berry is Aretha Franklin.
First there’s the obvious issue of size. Aretha wants Halle to play the older version of herself, and yet there’s no way Halle could convincingly make it to the slim side of plus-sized to even attempt to compare to Aretha’s noted full-figure. It feels crass to compare bodies, however good biographical films are about accuracy, and no one could portray Aretha as she is now without at least trying to duplicate the woman in look and body type. It’s unimaginable that the naturally petite Halle would pack on enough weight to be an authentic version of Aretha, and any other alternative would be cheap and distracting.
Next, and most importantly — Halle can’t sing. Now, no one is going to be able to belt it out like Aretha, but wouldn’t she at least want an actress who could try? The idea of a someone lip-synching their way through a movie about a singer seems unbearable, and a sure fire way to become the laughing stock of the critic’s corner.
I know she has high hopes for this film, but — note to Aretha — Halle is not the way. Furthermore, it’s probably best that Aretha stay out of the casting process completely. No one wants an uninformed outsider making rules and suggestions on the job, and that is very clearly what Aretha Franklin is doing. Other Hollywood stars on her fantasy film wish list? Denzel Washington, Terrence Howard, Nia Long and Blair Underwood. Sounds like a great cast, but as of date none of these actors nor their representatives have announced any type of plan to participate in the film.
It’s tough casting a film about an icon, and even more difficult when that person is a living legend. If Aretha wants a good film, she should make sure some smart and savvy people are in charge, then back off and let them do their job. Hopefully Aretha’s film will focus more on the integrity of the story, and less on the glamour of Hollywood stars, who could end up making it an embarrassing caricature.