In the final scenes in “Respect,” Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson executes a stirring rendition of Aretha Franklin’s live performance of “Amazing Grace.” The sequence is a recreation of Franklin’s 1972 recording session for her historic live gospel album of the same name, and its making-of documentary, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

“I love that the film started in the church and ended in the church, mostly because that’s very much who Ms. Franklin was…and it is the same for myself,” Hudson said, detailing the scene in the Variety Streaming Room presented by MGM Studios/UAR.

What Hudson found most interesting about this film’s take on Franklin’s story was the fact that it doesn’t chronicle Franklin’s life from birth to death — or as director Liesl Tommy put it, “cradle to the grave.” Instead, the story covers Franklin’s professional breakthrough — chronicling how the singer became the Queen of Soul, ending with what was one of the biggest moments in her career — and putting that journey parallel to her personal trajectory with her faith. That approach, Hudson believes, gives the movie “power and substance.”

“That’s the power in biopics, when you get to learn the life, the triumphs, the circumstances of the character whom you’re playing. It also gives the music that much more substance and context when you get to see her conditions and the circumstances…that cultivated the music,” she shared.

The “Amazing Grace” scene also presents itself as a bookend to Hudson’s real-life history with the hymn, which she performed an emotional rendition of at Franklin’s funeral service in 2018.

“When you take a hymn such as ‘Amazing Grace,’ each time [you sing it] is different because there’s a testimony within the song,” Hudson explained, recalling the moment. “[My rendition] came from the circumstances and the conditions… in that moment for myself — my testimony.”

For the movie, Hudson — who was handpicked by the iconic soul singer to portray her in the biopic — worked to capture Franklin’s style of singing, speaking and moving.

“When covering someone as massive as Ms. Franklin…she has so many layers to her,” Hudson said. “The best way to approach it is to hop all the way in it. I wanted to not mimic her, or go through motions, but really try to live it. And in order to do that, I had to be present all the time.”

One of the shoot’s most challenging scenes, Hudson recalls, centered around Franklin’s 1968 version of “I Say a Little Prayer.” For this particular number, Franklin is in some of the deepest throes of her depression — which the film suggests were brought on by the loss of her mother when she was 10 years old, as well as her subsequent childhood sexual assault. Franklin had turned to drinking to get by, but there was still a show to perform.

In the movie, as Hudson wobbles toward the stage, cocktail in hand, the audience at home braces for what is sure to be a lowlight in Franklin’s illustrious career. The scene presented a number of challenges, since Hudson needed to seem visibly intoxicated while performing the song live — albeit poorly — but the actor has never had a drink in her life.

“Acting is a huge thought process, and I’m sure a lot of actors can relate. You go over it in your mind. Normally, you have something to pull from, and I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to portray this, and keep the story, and then sing it live?’” Hudson explained. “I just remember, I lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out, ‘How am I going to approach this scene?’ Because things like that are very tricky.”

Hudson turned to acting coach Lelund Thompson to help find her way into that scene, but most of the performance happened live in the moment. The actor was so committed to the performance that she even reenacted the moment when Franklin drunkenly falls off stage. “I did that for real,” Hudson confirms. “I’m like, ‘No, no. Let’s go for it.'”

Watch the full interview above, as Hudson details her transformation into Franklin, including the 83 costume changes it took to embody the Queen of Soul.