What Whitney Houston Should Sing
What a difference a song makes – especially when sung by the Greatest Voice of All.
That was undoubtedly the case when Whitney Houston’s epic rendition of “I Will Always Love You” hit No. 1 before “The Bodyguard” – the blockbuster that spawned the hit single – even released 30 years ago on November 25, 1992 But Houston’s immortal cover of Dolly Parton’s 1974 country hit wasn’t the original choice to score the moment the singer and Kevin Costner say their bittersweet goodbyes at the end of the romantic thriller.
“She was supposed to be singing ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,'” The Bodyguard music supervisor Maureen Crowe told The Post of the 1966 Jimmy Ruffin Motown classic dirge. And it was covered for Fried Green Tomatoes [by Paul Young in 1991], and it was climbing the charts while we were making The Bodyguard. So we couldn’t use that song because it would look like we stole it from Fried Green Tomatoes. ”
It was Crowe who suggested “I Will Always Love You” to producer star Costner – which she’d only heard of before from Linda Ronstadt’s 1975 remake. And the rest is movie history.
The Bodyguard, which was R-rated, became the second-biggest movie in the world in 1992, after top-grossing G-movie Aladdin. With Costner on an unstoppable role in 1987’s The Untouchables, 1988’s Bull Durham, 1989’s Field of Dreams and 1990’s Dances with Wolves, and Houston at the peak of her pop powers with nine No. -1-Hits Her career has been a magical meeting of the best – and greatest – of both worlds.
It was even hard to say which was more powerful – the film or the soundtrack. With Houston at the helm at the helm of the crystal clear highs, the “Bodyguard” LP became the best-selling soundtrack of all time and won the 1994 Grammy for Album of the Year. But as a major on a big screen, despite making her debut for the late superstar, she had serious doubts about slipping into the role of another super diva – Rachel Marron – who needs bodyguard Frank Farmer (Costner) to protect her from a stalker to protect.
“She was nervous about the whole thing, and I remember a couple of times she said, ‘You know, I don’t know what I’m doing — I’m a singer, I’m not an actor,'” said Tomas Arana, who wrote the former Secret Service agent Greg Portman, who turned out to be a hitman hired to kill Rachel. “And I said to her, ‘Whitney, you’re a star — don’t worry about it.’ ”
Indeed, Costner – who eventually got the cameras rolling on the Lawrence Kasdan script after it was originally assigned to Steve McQueen and then Ryan O’Neal to star alongside Diana Ross in the ’70s – only wanted Houston in the role of Rachel Marron.
And DeVaughn Nixon — who played Houston’s son Fletcher in The Bodyguard at age 8 — believes the role of Rachel Marron was as tailor-made for her as any of the bespoke costumes she wore in the film.
“It was pretty true to itself,” said Nixon, who now stars in HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty – playing his basketball star father, Norm Nixon – and FX’s Snowfall. “There weren’t too many differences. I mean, she wasn’t so much a diva – she had to step it up for the film, of course – but she almost told her story in a way. I just feel like Rachel Marron is the alter ego [in whom] She was finally able to escape…play the person she essentially actually was.
But Houston “never played the star card,” said Gary Kemp, who portrayed Rachel’s publicist Sy Spector. “She hung out with the crew, she didn’t scurry to her trailer… She had her beautiful partner, Robyn [Crawford, Houston’s former assistant and secret lover]mostly with her.”
Houston would even cover the cast and crew by breaking into songs behind the scenes. “One of my most overwhelming memories is of being in a trailer at 6 a.m., having my makeup applied, and she’s sitting next to me and bursting into gospel,” said Kemp, who is a member of the ’80s British band Spandau Ballet had his own pop experience which earned him points at Costner. “He said, ‘The song you wrote [the 1983 hit] ‘True’ belongs to me and my wife.’ ”
Unfortunately, Kemp also shared grief with the “Bodyguard” cast and crew over the tragic death of grip truck driver William Vitagliano, who was accidentally crushed between two cranes about six weeks into filming in January 1992. “It was devastating,” said Kemp, who released the solo album INSOLO in 2021. “It was quite a tough experience for everyone. But after we took some time off, we kept shooting.”
And for Nixon, there would be many happy moments — from snowball fights with Costner in Lake Tahoe to poolside fun at the Beverly Hills mansion that served as Rachel’s home. Known as the “Beverly Hills Compound,” it was the same location where the famous horsehead scene in “The Godfather” took place.
What Nixon remembers most, however, is the special bond he had with Houston as his “guardian” on the set. “Whitney looked past me,” he said. “I was like her child. She would sing me hymns, she would tell me about the Bible. She would just enlighten me on everything.”
However, Houston admittedly learned his way on the set of The Bodyguard. And when it came time for a kissing scene with Arana, she wasn’t comfortable closing her lips. “I first met her when we were shooting the kissing scene in the bedroom,” he said. “She said, ‘I’m so sorry, but I’m just so nervous. I don’t really want to kiss on the lips.’ So I ended up kissing her neck and we kind of caressed. But we don’t actually kiss on the lips.”
As for his romantic rival on The Bodyguard, Arana said that during filming, Costner was “a sweetheart, super nice, down to earth.” When bad food poisoning landed Arana in the hospital while filming at Miami’s legendary Fontainebleau Hotel, the “Yellowstone” star actually gave him a very special gift.
“Kevin and I were talking about baseball,” said the actor, who stars in the 2023 film Limonov. “And he brought me a baseball signed by him [Hall of Famer] Brooks Robinson he had. He’d played some kind of charity baseball or softball game with him.”
But aside from convincing Houston to take on the role, perhaps Costner’s greatest stroke of genius was the idea of having his leading lady begin “I Will Always Love You” a cappella. Those 42 seconds of sheer brilliance got us all saying hello.
“It was a little nervous about doing it as a single, the radio might be like, ‘People are going to think we’re off the air,'” Crowe said of the version, which Houston recorded live with her band in a couple of takes has hire. “And that turned out to be no problem at all. It blew up on the radio.”
With special releases commemorating the 30th anniversary of The Bodyguard — as well as the Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, due out December 21 — her love for Houston lives on 10 years after her death. And to this day, Arana performs “I Will Always Love You” before having to cry for a scene.
“That’s because I associate it with the beautiful soul of Whitney Houston, the sweetness of her smile, and the tragedy of her all-too-short life.”
https://nypost.com/2022/11/25/the-bodyguard-at-30-what-whitney-houston-was-supposed-to-sing/ What Whitney Houston Should Sing