Angela Bassett Discusses Directing Whitney Houston Biopic
Bassett recently opened up to Entertainment Weekly about the project, including her choice of casting and the family’s involvement in the film.
The 55-year-old director says the film is a personal project for her. Bassett worked with Houston on the set of the 1995 film ‘Waiting to Exhale.’ Much like the world, she was deeply affected by the tragic news of the singer’s death in 2012.
“I obviously had worked with Whitney and, you know, just fell in love with her as the rest of the world did,” she said. “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.”
Bassett says the film will explore Houston’s life and her relationship with Bobby Brown. In telling their story, the issue of drug use will be examined. “We can’t tell their story without that,” said Bassett. “It’s involved and I hope we can unpack it gently.”
As for casting, Yaya DaCosta, of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ fame, will portray Houston in the biopic. There have been reports that Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, wanted to play her mother in the movie. Bassett said she was never in consideration for the part.
“I did not think about casting her and probably for a number of reasons, you know,” she said. “One being that she’s not an actress. I know she’s acted here and there… 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.”
The actor-turned-filmmaker also confirmed that the Houston family is not involved in the project. According to TMZ, Pat Houston, the singer’s former manager, is exploring legal options to block the film. Bassett says that the Houston family not supporting the film won’t hurt it’s creation.
“I really just want to tell a story about a boy and a girl who fell in love. And these are the words and this is the place, and these are are the people on the outside,” she said. “And I want to be as honest as I can about about doing that.”
“We care about the humanity of this woman and man, telling their story,” she continued. “I know it was going to be told, so I’m so humbled that it was put in my hands to tell it. So I’m going to protect it to the best of my abilities.”
Interestingly, Bassett also revealed that Houston’s tragic death will not be explored in the movie.
“That’s one of the things I do appreciate about the story at least, with this first story about her. We’re not interested in dragging her life again through, you know, the muck,” she explained. “She had to play out her choices, and the consequences of them, in a very hot, glaring spotlight, but we’re not interested in dragging that through again.”
The Whitney Houston biopic is expected to air on Lifetime in 2015.