Why Whitney Houston Was Initially Reluctant to Star in ‘The Bodyguard’
In the 1990s, Whitney Houston maintained a successful film career on top of her well-established superstardom. From starring in The Preacher’s Wife to Waiting To Exhale, the singer made quite the name for herself in the film industry thanks to her acting chops.
Though it seemed like the singer was destined to be a Hollywood actor, it turns out that she wasn’t interested in a film career at first. In fact, it’s been revealed that she almost turned down her role in the 1992 film The Bodyguard — and there were a few reasons that factored into her reluctance to star in the movie.
‘The Bodyguard’ was initially pitched in the 1970s
Years before Houston and Kevin Costner stole everyone’s hearts in The Bodyguard, the film’s concept was cooked up by Lawrence Kasdan and filmmaker John Boorman.
Originally written in 1975, the film went through various rewrites and rough drafts before a script was finally developed and sent to actors who executives thought would be perfect for the film.
Though the team wanted actor Ryan O’Neal to play the male lead, they didn’t have anyone to take on the role of his female counterpart. However, O’Neal had someone in mind and suggested that the script be sent to his girlfriend at the time, Diana Ross.
Though the actor was convinced Ross would be perfect for the role, she didn’t agree as the film’s nude scene turned her off. It was also reported that she wasn’t a fan of the movie’s songs, title, or violence and gave executives a hard “no” when it came time to render her final decision in 1979.
Whitney Houston was hesitant to take on the role of Rachel Marron
More than a decade after Ross turned down the opportunity to star in The Bodyguard, the role was brought to Houston.
Since Houston was at the height of her career in the early 1990s, many thought that she would be perfect for the role of Rachel Marron. However, the singer had reservations about taking on the part, as she thought the role wasn’t right for her.
“I knew it was the right project. But Rachel’s character had to be fleshed out a bit,’ the singer told the LA Times in 1992. “In the first draft, she was just mean and b*tchy all the time. I mean, we all have our days, but I thought she should be a bit warmer.”
Kevin Costner convinced Whitney Houston to star in ‘The Bodyguard’
After executives expressed their desire for her to play the fierce diva as well as sing six new songs, Houston responded to the offer with a simple “maybe.”
After the script was rewritten and more discussions were had about the film, Houston still wouldn’t commit to the role.
Even Costner — who signed on to produce and star in the film — spent months trying to convince the singer to star opposite him, but she wouldn’t budge.
“I think she was scared because as popular as Whitney is, she takes an unwarranted amount of shots (from the media),” Costner explained to the LA Times. “She is a real big target, so if you combine that with the fact that she could turn out to be a bad actress, that’s a huge risk.”
It wasn’t until he picked up the phone one day and expressed to Houston why she needed to be in the film that she finally accepted the role.
“I promised her two things: that I would be right there with her, and she would not be bad, because I refuse to let anybody fail around me,” Costner said.
“That was the thing that convinced me,” Houston shared. “When he said, ‘I will be right there with you.’ He told me he knew the kind of performer I was, used all these adjectives and stuff, and said I could do this. But when he said, ‘You won’t be left out there alone,’ that’s when I got into it.”
Whitney Houston considered the film a ‘milestone for women’
After its release in 1992, The Bodyguard scored big at the box office, raking in $400 million globally.
It was also earned Houston high praise for her acting skills, as well as five hit singles on the music charts: “I Will Always Love You,” “I’m Every Woman,” “I Have Nothing,” “Run to You,” and “Queen of the Night.”
Though she was hesitant to star in The Bodyguard, Houston was later glad she did the film as she considered it to be “a milestone for women, black women and black actresses.”