Whitney Houston was said to be “declining in terms of her popularity” when her name came up as a possible co-star/romantic partner for Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, the hit drama that opened 30 years ago today, on Nov. 25, 1992.
“It wasn’t her ‘in’ moment,” Costner told Yahoo Entertainment about the late pop icon during a 2014 role recall interview (watch clip above). “That didn’t really matter to me. I just thought she was the perfect choice.”
The Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker also revealed that race was a factor that was dissuading parties involved from casting the pop star in the role of Rachel Marron, a music superstar who becomes romantically involved with her bodyguard (Costner’s Frank Farmer) while facing threats from a stalker.
“Everybody alerted me to the fact that she was Black, which I knew,” he said.
“It might have been easier two years earlier at her peak. But after that movie, she became, I think, one of the biggest stars in the world.”
Indeed, Houston, who battled drug abuse later in her career and died in 2012, was two years past the release of her third consecutive hit record, 1990’s I’m Your Baby Tonight. She had also never acted in a movie before. Costner was arguably at the height of his career, having just dominated the Oscars with Dances With Wolves.
“I just think that people are trying to cast [who] they think is the best person, and sometimes the feeling was, ‘Well, let’s cast a real actress, that could be the best for the movie,” said Costner, whose string of hits at the time had included Bull Durham (1988) and Field of Dreams (1989). “It’s like faking being a good baseball player. When you see one of our world-class actresses faking being a great singer, it doesn’t seem right.
“So I really felt that we should go for a true singer. It didn’t matter if she was black or white. The fact that she was Black, that didn’t matter to me.”
Costner can currently be seen in Paramount Network’s hit Western Yellowstone.
Houston will get the Hollywood biopic treatment next month with the release of I Wanna Dance With Somebodystarring Naomi Ackie in the lead role.
Watch our full role recall interview with Kevin Costner: