- Posted July 15, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What are you watching?
The Untold Story of Whitney & Bobby's Love in the upcoming biopic!!!
Some of you may remember her for her pop star status or emotional ballads that made you fall in love with love again. Some of you may remember her for her marriage to Bobby Brown or her award winning career under Clive Davis. Some of you may remember the Friend, the Singer, or the Mother, but many of you remember the person, the woman, and the love of life within her….. Whitney Houston, an Icon, a Legend, the Diva … whose timeless music still lives.
Even after her untimely death on February 11, 2012, the world still mourns her passing and next year Actress Angela Bassett (Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee ) will rebirth her legacy by directing a Lifetime film entitled “I Will Always Love You, The Whitney Houston Story”. This biopic will focus on the relationship/marriage between her and Songwriter/Performer Bobby Brown - from the time they met, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage. The script “I Will Always Love You, The Whitney Houston Story” was penned by Shem Bitterman; produced by Larry Sanitsky; Starring Yaya Dacosta (portraying Whitney Houston) and Arlen Escarpeta (portraying Bobby Brown).
In a recent interview, with Entertainment Weekly, Angela Bassett shares details about the Houston family’s involvement, addressed casting rumors, and opened up about her biggest hesitation in signing onto a film about one of America’s most adored icons. Here is a sneak peek of her interview below….
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WHITNEY HOUSTONAS YOUR FIRST DIRECTORIAL PROJECT?
ANGELA BASSETT:I obviously had worked with Whitney and, you know, just fell in love with her as the rest of the world did. And when this opportunity was brought my way, it really was something I couldn’t say no to. I felt that if I said no and let it pass, I could imagine having a great deal of regret, you know? I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful sista, which is of course an opportunity for me to grow as a woman and as an artist in many expected and unexpected ways.
THE FILM SPECIFICALLY FOCUSES ON BOBBY AND WHITNEY’S RELATIONSHIP, WHICH MIGHT BE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ASPECT OF HER LIFE. DOES THAT MAKE IT EASIER OR HARDER FOR YOU?
ANGELA BASSETT: Well, it was easy. I can’t say it was difficult. You know, I reflect it back on the moment I first saw them together. It was when I was doing Exhale. We were all on set in the living room together and [Bobby] came to visit. I, like everyone else, had some preconceived idea … people just looked at a photograph or picture of them together and thought “They’re incongruous.” “They don’t go together.” “Why is she with him?” I think that was usually the question, not “Why is he with her?” They could imagine her with someone else who does something else, who carries himself [differently], who looks somehow different.
AS A DIRECTOR, WHAT TYPE OF RESEARCH ARE YOU DOING TO PREPARE FOR THIS TYPE OF MOVIE? ARE YOU GOING THROUGH HER PERSONAL ITEMS, OR SPEAKING TO HER FAMILY FOR RESEARCH?
ANGELA BASSETT: No, not through her items. A lot of our research is from interviews, from interviews that she has given and we’ve crafted it within the framework of her meeting Bobby and taking that relationship about four or five years forward. And of course, I did read her mother’s book.
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO COLLABORATE OR WORK WITH THE FAMILY AT ALL WITH REGARDS TO THE FILM?
ANGELA BASSETT: No, they’re not participating. We reached out to them in the early days; of course we’re not going to do the movie and not say anything to them. You can if you’re using public domain, but that’s not our desire. We paid our respects and let the conversation be had, just to get their okay.
DRUGS WERE A PART OF THEIR STORY, AND THAT’S CONTROVERSIAL IN AND OF ITSELF. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
ANGELA BASSETT: Right. Well, we know that drugs were a part of their story and that’s certainly an element of their story. We can’t tell their story without that. It’s involved, and I hope we can unpack it gently.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SPECIFIC CHALLENGES THAT HAVE ALREADY ARISEN WITH THIS MOVIE?
ANGELA BASSETT: The challenges that I think happen with all movies. As a first-time director, I don’t want to rush or consider time constraints. Those are the challenges, but you’re excited. The night before [shooting], I literally slept 3 hours. I was completely running on adrenaline all day. And that happened last night. (Laughs) I’ve been getting no rest since. That’s what happens when I’m on the other side of the camera. You know, the night before you start something like this, you’re so excited, your head is spinning with all the buildup and then it’s like, the ship is moving, let’s turn it back onto that horizon.
DO YOU WANT YOUR MOVIE TO BE THE DEFINITIVE WHITNEY HOUSTON BIOPIC? WOULD IT BOTHER YOU IF HER FAMILY MEMBERS PRODUCED THEIR OWN MOVIE?
ANGELA BASSETT: Not one bit. This is going to be the trailer to the movie they’re going to make. How can this be definitive? Her life, her stardom, was so massive. Nothing that’s never been seen or done before, her talent was so anointed and so galvanizing, like nothing ever heard before. She was like no one ever known before. She deserves to have this movie, and another movie, and everything and anything else.
IN UPLIFTING HER MEMORY TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD POSSIBLE, DID YOU EVER THINK ABOUT CASTING HER DAUGHTER BOBBI KRISTINA AS WHITNEY HERSELF?
ANGELA BASSETT: No, I did not think about that. I did not think about casting her. And probably for a number of reasons, you know. One being that she’s not an actress. I know she’s acted here and there. I know she’s been on their family’s reality show, but she’s not an actress and acting is a craft. It’s an attempt to illuminate the complexities of human behavior and life. And this is a very fast-paced schedule; we have just 21 days to tell this story. It’s more than just saying lines and turning the light on. You have to drive the story—there’s a technical aspect.
YOU CAST YAYA DACOSTA AS WHITNEY—AND YOU WENT WITH A CAST OF NEWCOMERS FOR THIS FILM AS OPPOSED TO MORE ESTABLISHED ACTORS. WHY IS THAT?
ANGELA BASSETT: Because I want you to fall into the world of Whitney and Bobby. And I don’t want to stop you at the gate with maybe the image of something familiar, someone you’ve seen from something else. You’ve already got your perception of them as an actor and person, and now you’ve got to put that to the side and squint your eyes and imagine this is Whitney and Bobby, you know what I mean? (Laughs)
And listen. Let me tell you something. We sat in the casting process and it is no easy feat for an actor to come into a room, bare their soul, to open themselves up to these words, this process, and these people. It’s not like, Oh my gosh, I have six good choices for Bobby. No, you don’t, you have two. Searching for weeks and only two rise to the top. They had different qualities that are like Bobby. You’ve gotta be like, which way do you want to go? And the same with Whitney. There are maybe one and then another. But Yaya was far and above the only choice, you know.
IT’S BEEN RUMORED YOU MIGHT HAVE A ROLE IN THE FILM AS WELL. WILL YOU?
ANGELA BASSETT: No, I won’t. I think there was some hope from someone in one of the conference rooms at Lifetime, but no. I know how I get when I’m acting a role. You spend 24 hours thinking about that one thing, that one character, that character’s motivations, obstacles, and this, that, and the other thing. I know some folks do it [act and direct], but this is my first time—so I don’t want to do this and that. And I don’t want to take a role from a working actor.
The one thing that I must say stood out to me in this interview is Angela Bassett’s desire to cast newcomers for the leading roles. In her statement, “You’ve already got your perception of them as an actor and person, and now you’ve got to put that to the side and squint your eyes and imagine this is Whitney and Bobby,” I must say is a great way to introduce aspiring, new, and fresh actors in the industry. When watching biopic’s or biographies our idea of the actor can affect our ability to understand the person they are trying to portray because we are stuck on the role or person we best know them for. I have to applaud Angela Basset not only for sharing Whitney & Bobby’s love story, but for paving the way for newcomers’ and showing Hollywood that it’s okay to step outside of the “comfortable” contact list and give others a chance.
Filming of “I Will Always Love You, The Whitney Houston Story” is going on right now in Los Angeles, California until July 17th and the complete story will be aired on Lifetime in 2015.
Mz.Monaye website: www.penlegacy.com
Pictures: Yaya Dacosta and Arlen Escarpeta, Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston, and Whitney Houston