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Biopics We Wish Would Happen & Stars We’d Want to Star in Them

With Fantasia gearing up to play gospel legend Mahalia Jackson and casting soon to begin on a Tupac Shakur biopic, the BoomBox got to thinking about other iconic musicians whose lives deserve the big-screen treatment. What follows is a list of 10 possible music biopics and the superstars we nominate for the lead roles. Some of our contenders have said publicly they’d be game for playing their idols, while others simply bear an uncanny resemblance to the legends in question.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin

Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin
Getty Images For AOL I Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Jennifer Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Effie White in 2006′s ‘Dreamgirls,’ based on Motown legends the Supremes. So playing Aretha Franklin wouldn’t be too big of a stretch. What’s more, J-Hud sang as part of a tribute to the Queen of Soul at the 2011 Grammys, and she recently told ‘Access Hollywood’ she’d gladly take on the role. “If I get that opportunity I would love to do it,” Hudson said. “I would be honored.” Although Aretha apparently favored Halle Berry for the part, the actress has declined, citing her tone-deafness — something Hudson, a former ‘American Idol’ contestant, doesn’t have to worry about.

Usher as Marvin Gaye

Usher, Marvin Gaye
WireImage I Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Usher may be R&B’s reigning loverman, but the 32-year-old superstar has Marvin Gaye to thank for paving the way. From his early years with the ’50s doo-wop group the Moonglows, to his tragic death at the hands of his father in 1984, Marvin Gaye topped the charts time and time again, proving R&B could be both political and sensual. Usher, a self-professed superfan, is a natural for the part. He’s been acting since 1997, when he appeared on TV’s ‘Moesha,’ and in 2002, he played Gaye on NBC’s ‘American Dreams,’ performing the 1963 hit ‘Can I Get a Witness.’ “I felt his spirit as I did it,” Usher told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There is an attraction from my soul to this man, and portraying him fulfilled a piece of me, because I ultimately want to do his whole story.”

Terrance Howard as Rick James

Terrance Howard, Rick James
Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards I Redferns / Getty Images

Famously spoofed in an ongoing skit on ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ ‘Super Freak’ singer Rick James is well deserving of a feature-length film. Over the course of his troubled life, he struggled with crack addition and faced multiple assault charges, providing plenty of fodder for a biopic. Who better to portray the funk legend than Terrence Howard, who started his acting career playing Jackie Jackson, one of the Jackson 5, in the ABC miniseries ‘The Jacksons: An American Dream.‘ Howard also starred as an aspiring rapper in 2005′s ‘Hustle & Flow‘ and recorded multiple tracks for the movie’s soundtrack, including the Oscar-winning hit ‘It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp’ — a sentiment James likely would have agreed with.

Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix

Andre 3000, Jimi Hendrix
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Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000, is best known as one-half of the Grammy winning hip-hop duo OutKast, but he’s got plenty of love for guitar god Jimi Hendrix. Andre has clearly been influenced by the late rocker’s flamboyant style, and the physical resemblance between the two is uncanny. Benjamin made his big-screen debut with 2003′s ‘Hollywood Homicide,’ and in 2004, he was optimistic about his chances of starring in a Hendrix biopic. “Jimi was wild on stage,” Andre told the New York Daily News.” Offstage, he was really calm.” Unfortunately, the hip-hopper’s high hopes of playing the rock legend were crushed when the Hendrix estate refused Jimi’s music to be featured onscreen. Benjamin isn’t the first Hendrix fan who has tried to make a biopic happen; past hopefuls include Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne and Eddie Murphy.

Amber Riley as Chaka Khan

Amber Riley, Chaka Khan
Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards I Redferns / Getty Images

Glee‘ star Amber Riley has got an unbelievable set of pipes, and her ‘Glee’ highlight reel includes stellar renditions of Jennifer Holliday‘s ‘And I Am Telling You’ and Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Beautiful. ‘After channeling her personal idol Chaka Khan in a spread for Essence, Riley teamed up with the magazine and launched a Facebook campaign to feature the soul superstar’s music on ‘Glee.’ “Chaka Khan is my favorite artist not only because her voice is absolutely amazing,” Riley told Essence. “She’s just creative, she’s different, she came out different.” If a Chaka biopic ever happens, Riley will have to flex her dramatic muscle; in addition to marrying three times, the ‘I’m Every Woman’ singer battled addictions to cocaine, heroin and alcohol.

Tyrese Gibson as Teddy Pendergrass

Tyrese, Teddy Pendergrass
WireImage I Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Singer-turned-actor Tyrese Gibson recently took to his Twitter page and expressed his desire to play ’70s soul singer Teddy Pendergrass. He wants Lee Daniels to direct, and in one tweet, Tyrese predicted, “This is my Oscar.” Add a little huskiness to Tyrese’s already sultry vocals and he’s a shoe-in to portray the soul great, whose career declined after a 1982 car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. “I was there during the last days of him being on this Earth,” Tyrese told AOL’s Black Voices, recalling a meeting shortly before Pendergrass’ death in 2009. “He told me himself, ‘I don’t want nobody else in this world to do this movie but you.’ At first it was an opportunity, now it’s a responsibility.”

Will Smith as Sam Cooke

Will Smith, Sam Cooke
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Will Smith is no stranger to biopics, having received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of boxing icon Muhammad Ali in 2001′s ‘Ali.’ The multi-talented entertainer has been involved in the production of most of his film projects, and anything Big Willie touches turns to box office gold. In that sense, he’s the perfect choice to play soul legend Sam Cooke, one of the first black performers to attend to the business side of his career. Smith, of course, has dabbled in music himself — he first found fame as Grammy-winning rapper the Fresh Prince — and he looks just like Cooke. He’s even got the late singer’s charming smile.

Eddie Murphy as James Brown

Eddie Murphy, James Brown
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Funny man Eddie Murphy has shown versatility as a dramatic actor, winning a Golden Globe and receiving an Oscar nomination for his role as a James Brown-esque character in ‘Dreamgirls,’ alongside fellow biopic contender Jennifer Hudson. When news broke that a Spike Lee-directed James Brown biopic was in the works, Murphy revealed that the late Godfather of Soul had personally tapped him for the part. “James Brown said to me years ago, ‘If they ever do my life, you got to play my story,’” Murphy said in 2007. “I said, ‘James, if I do you, people will be laughing.’ [Brown said] ‘They ain’t gonna laugh if you don’t try to be funny.’” If Lee casts Murphy, he might need another actor for the film’s early scenes. “I couldn’t do James Brown now until he got to 40, ’cause I’m 45,” Murphy, now 50, said in the same interview. “I’ll be 46 in April and I’m not doin’ no splits and no s— like that, and rippin’ my ass out tryin’ to make no movie! The split days are gone.”

Meagan Good as Whitney Houston

Meagan Good, Whitney Houston
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Meagan Good has been quite vocal about her desire to play one of the best-selling recording artists of all time: R&B diva Whitney Houston. “That’s my personal dream role,” the 29-year-old actress told Vibe. “I just feel her. I feel like people don’t know who she really is. And for some reason I feel close to her.” Good added, “I feel like I get the essence of who she is behind closed doors. And I think that I could portray her well in a way that she would be happy, God willing.” While the 47-year-old singer’s story is still unfolding, her career and personal life haven’t lacked drama. The former model has won more than 400 awards, starred in multiple critically acclaimed movies, weathered a troubled marriage with Bobby Brown and survived a stint in rehab for drug addiction.

Lenny Kravitz as Bob Marley

Lenny Kravitz, Bob Marley
WireImage I Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The possibility of a Bob Marley biopic has been floating around for years. The reggae legend — who died of cancer at 36 — is known for his politically charged lyrics and is credited with bringing Jamaican music and Rastafarianism into mainstream consciousness. However, difficulty obtaining the rights to Marley’s music has stopped several attempted projects in their tracks. If a Marley biopic were to come to fruition, Grammy-winning rocker Lenny Kravitz would be our pick for leading man. The 46-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been honing his skills as an actor, scoring an NAACP Image Award nomination for his supporting role as a sensitive and sexy male nurse in the 2009 movie ‘Precious.’ Also, like Marley, Kravitz comes from a mixed-race background, has model-esque cheekbones and once sported super-long dreads.

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