Kevin Costner Says He Fought for Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' Moment in 'The Bodyguard'

Kevin Costner tells Kelly Clarkson he fought for Whitney Houston to sing 'I Will Always Love You' a cappella in 'The Bodyguard.'

Kevin Costner revealed he is responsible for one of the most iconic music moments in film history.

In a recent appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Costner shared a shocking revelation into Whitney Houston's iconic performance of "I Will Always Love You" in the 1992 film The Bodyguard.

Costner, who starred opposite the late singer in the film, disclosed how he fought with studio executives to include Houston's now-iconic a cappella rendition of the hit song. 

During the interview, Clarkson brought up a rumor she had heard about Costner's involvement in the pivotal scene. She asked, "Is it true that you were the one who insisted Whitney sing 'I Will Always Love You' a cappella in the movie?"

Costner confirmed the rumor, explaining the resistance he faced from the studio. "Yeah, they weren’t that wild about it on the record side of things and I said, 'You guys need to get over that,'" he recounted. "I said, 'Don’t be too sure they won’t play it on the radio.' For me, Whitney was doing almost an apology moment at that point, and what better way to let somebody know they really mean what they are singing to you when they don’t need the music behind them? Let me sing to you what I feel about you."

The actor's vision for the scene was driven by his instinct to strip away the music and let Houston's powerful voice and emotion shine through unaccompanied. "Of course, the band kicks in and we know when it does, the hair on your arm stands up. That was just an instinct that I had, let’s not have any music and let her stand up there just bare and say you were important to me at a certain point in her life," Costner elaborated.

Clarkson, clearly moved by Costner’s anecdote, praised the simplicity and beauty of the moment. She inquired if Costner had similar experiences on other film sets.

"Yeah, I pick music all the time. It's hard sometimes to go up to a world-class composer and say, 'I'm not liking this,'" Costner admitted. He emphasized the importance of intuition in recognizing the potential impact of a scene or song.

Speaking directly to the audience, Costner shared his belief in the universal ability to recognize excellence. "You know a good singer or athlete when you see one, and you know good music," he said.

Clarkson concluded the segment by highlighting the necessity for harmony between music and film, noting that music and film "need to feel like a duet."

Whitney Houston in 'The Bodyguard' - Fotos International/Getty Images

During an appearance on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman's Armchair Expert podcast earlier this month, Costner recalled his time with Houston -- who was only 29 when the film hit theaters in November 1992. The romantic drama -- in which Houston played a famous singer with a stalker who falls in love with her bodyguard, played by Costner -- received mixed reviews, but it was massively successful at the box office, earning $410 million worldwide.

"She was my choice," the two-time Oscar winner said. "So I was the actor, I produced it and I picked her." 

Costner claimed that director Mick Johnson was "uncomfortable" with Houston as the leading lady, but Costner was determined to have the singer make her feature debut in the film. 

Costner said that Houston "trusted him" in a way she didn't anyone else on production. "I started to guide her and I wasn't trying to usurp my director, but l had made a promise to her," he shared. "I had promised Whitney that she'd be good in it...We had this movie that worked and that was my promise to her. She's always gonna love me in the song and I was always gonna keep my promise to her."

Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner - Michael Caulfield/WireImage

The bond between Costner and Houston remained tight throughout the years -- so much so that the actor was called upon to give a eulogy at her public memorial in February 2012.

Even more successful was The Bodyguard soundtrack, on which Whitney co-executive produced and recorded six new songs. Her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” remains one of the best-selling physical singles of all time -- going platinum 18 times over -- and won the performer the GRAMMY Awards for Album of the Year and Record of the Year in 1994. The album would go on to be named the top-selling Soundtrack Album of the Century by the RIAA.

Speaking with ET at the 2022 Oscars red carpet, Costner recalled of his time with Houston, "She was a really street-smart girl, she knew stuff."

"I knew she could handle the part but she wasn't sure she could handle it," Costner added. "There came a moment where she had to make a decision and I saw her trust me and we had that, from that moment on."

"That was my promise to her, that she'd look great and be great," he added with a smile. The film went on to earn two Oscar nominations -- both for Best Original Song -- and became an international box office smash.