Kevin Costner Honors Whitney Houston During Emotional Beverly Hilton Hotel Event

Feb. 11, 2023 marks the 11th anniversary of Whitney Houston's death. The "I Will Always Love You" singer died from accidental drowning with substances found in her system just one day before the 2012 Grammy Awards. She was 48 years old. Despite her personal struggles that became tabloid fodder, she'll forever be remembered as "The Voice," with vocal ability that remains unmatched. And outside of music, she was a talented actress, starring as the lead in several blockbuster and cult classics. Her first was 1992's The Bodyguard as an international singing icon who falls in love with the bodyguard hired to keep her safe from a crazed stalker. Kevin Costner starred as her love interest. The film grossed over $400 million worldwide, with an equally successful soundtrack and world tour helmed by Houston. Costner has openly spoken about vetting Houston for the role, and putting production on hold to accommodate her schedule. He has fond memories of the singer, and recently shared a few.

Honoring Houston at the Beverly Hilton, the same hotel Houston died in, the Yellowstone star described his affinity for the star, comparing it to his friend and Houston's mentor, Clive Davis. "We were both struck by Whitney the first time we first met her," Costner said at the ceremony, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. "Whitney would be our common ground, and from that moment we all worked as one collective... so powerful that for one moment in time the entire world seemed focused on this one country song. Whitney had become the most celebrated singer of her generation, but she was an untrained actress and it was unclear if this was something she should aspire to or even something that was good for her career. All three of us would take a huge leap," he said of pushing Houston to do her best in the part. 

He recalls what the role meant for Houston. At the time, she'd already made history with seven consecutive No. 1 singles, her first two albums selling millions of copies each, and a tour. But, Houston came under fierce criticism from the Black community who felt she abandoned her gospel roots in favor of crossover success. The Bodyguard would catapult her into even greater heights. 

"Whitney saw it as a chance to reinvent herself. But for Clive it was a career move that had 'recipe for disaster' written all over it. I needed Clive. I needed his trust and his blessing and I needed the one thing that he wasn't used to giving up: control," Costner remembered.