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Why Kevin Costner Believed Whitney Houston Was Perfect for ‘The Bodyguard’ When Others Didn’t

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Di / MovieStillDB (photo flipped)
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Di / MovieStillDB (photo flipped)

Hindsight is always 20/20. Before everyone knew The Bodyguard was going to be a major success, some people were concerned about casting pop sensation Whitney Houston alongside Kevin Costner. Thankfully, their concerns didn’t faze Costner, who always believed she was the right person for the role.

Houston wasn’t really in her prime at the time

Headshot of Whitney Houston looking to the side
There was a two-year lull in Whitney Houston’s career in which the next big project she took on was starring in The Bodyguard. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / diannecan / MovieStillsDB)

When casting for The Bodyguard started in 1991, Houston wasn’t really in the prime of her career. She was “declining in terms of her popularity” when she was being considered for the role of pop diva Rachel Marron. Yes, she had already developed a long and successful music career, but it had been a couple of years since she had put anything out.

Her third album, I’m Your Baby Tonight, which was the last project she had done, was released in 1990. It wasn’t until two years later that The Bodyguard hit theaters on November 25, 1992. “It wasn’t her ‘in’ moment,” Costner said later, but that didn’t seem to bother him. “I just thought she was the perfect choice.”

Despite Costner’s belief that Houston was an ideal candidate, she had actually never acted in a film before. The majority of her film credits prior to The Bodyguard were music videos but she had appeared in a couple of TV series, such as Gimme a Break! in 1984 and Silver Spoons in 1985.

Costner was in his prime

Kevin Costner holding an American Flag
Kevin Costner was awarded for his role as John Dunbar in Dances With Wolves at the 1991 Academy Awards. (Photo Credit: Tig Production / Orion Pictures / waryrwmn / MovieStillsDB)

Unlike Houston, Costner was in his prime when The Bodyguard was being filmed. He starred in the 1990 film Dances With Wolveswhich saw him play Lieutenant John Dunbar, a Civil War soldier who befriends Lakota Native Americans and adopts their lifestyle.

Costner had a big hand in the success of the movie and his efforts were well-received by audiences everywhere. In 1991, Dances With Wolves crushed the Oscars, snagging the award for Best Picture and earning Costner the award for Best Director. He was also nominated for Best Actor for his role as Dunbar.

Why Costner thought she was right for the film

Whitney Houston in a bedazzled dress singing at a microphone
Some people were concerned with Whitney Houston being cast in the film. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / lindsaylohanslastfan / MovieStillsDB)

When it came to actually casting Houston, some people had reservations. As she was not an actress by trade, they felt someone else might have been better suited for the role. “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.

One of the main reasons Costner believed Houston would be a perfect fit was because she’d bring something genuine to the role. “It’s like faking being a good baseball player,” he said. “When you see one of our world-class actresses faking being a great singer, it doesn’t seem right.”

Other people warned Costner about casting Houston

Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston looking at one another in a still from "The Bodyguard."
Kevin Costner knew Whitney Houston would be the perfect person to play the role of pop diva Rachel Marron. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Zayne / MovieStillsDB)

One of the reservations some people had about Houston was her race. Despite being an actual pop star who could bring her real-life experiences to the project, some believed that her skin color was going to be problematic for the role of Rachel, who ends up becoming romantically involved with her bodyguard (Costner).

This factor had no effect on Costner’s opinion of casting Houston. “Everybody alerted me to the fact that she was Black, which I knew,” he said. “The fact that she was Black, that didn’t matter to me.” He noted that perhaps if casting had taken place while she was in the prime of her career, it might have been met with less backlash.

‘The Bodyguard’ proved critics wrong

Kevin Costner smiles at Whitney Houston while arriving for an awards ceremony
Singers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, and actor Kevin Costner with his wife Cindy Costner attend The Bodyguard Hollywood premiere on November 23, 1992 at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo Credit: Kypros/Getty Images)

“It might have been easier [to cast Houston] two years earlier at her peak,” Costner said. “But after that movie, she became, I think, one of the biggest stars in the world.”

Costner knew he made the right decision. “So I really felt that we should go for a true singer. It didn’t matter if she was Black or white.” In the end, The Bodyguard‘s box office earnings totaled a whopping $411 million, proving that Houston was absolutely the right person for the job.

More from us: Ben Stiller Is Still ‘Haunted’ After Missing Out on This Movie Role

A biographical musical film about the late Whitney Houston, who passed away in 2012, is set to be released at the end of 2022.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!