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A little more than eight years after Whitney Houston’s life came to a tragic end, the late singer will soon be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with several of 2020 inductees. And as we look forward to what will definitely be a heartfelt homage to the star’s life and work, we can’t help but look back on the different cinematic roles Houston took on during her life. Featuring everything from 1992 movie The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston’s pairing with Kevin Costner to the 2018 documentary Whitney which recounted the Grammy Award-winning artist’s climb to prominence unlike anything before, there’s quite a bunch to watch.
1. The Bodyguard (1992)
Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner were already megastars by the time they appeared beside one another as Rachel Marron and Frank Farmer in 1992 romance film The Bodyguard. In the movie, Houston’s Rachel is an Oscar-nominated actress and music superstar who is on the receiving end of some unwanted and unsettling attention by a mysterious stalker. Costner’s Frank, a former Secret Service agent, is called in to protect the superstar, and after a difficult start of the partnership, the two build an extraordinarily strong bond.
Throughout the movie it’s evident that even though Whitney Houston lacked expertise as an actress, she more than made up for it with her unequaled vocal range and dramatic presence on the screen. It’s little wonder that the smash song from The Bodyguard’s soundtrack, a version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” remains the most popular element of the movie 28 years after the film’s premiere. Still, the movie was a big smash ($411 million a the global box office) and helped boost Houston’s star power higher than ever before.
2. Waiting To Exhale (1995)
Whitney Houston followed up her success in The Bodyguard with the 1995 drama Waiting to Exhale, which not only saw her take on a leading role, but also gave the award-winning singer another number-one hit song, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” that netted the singer (and producer Babyface) several awards following the song and soundtrack’s release. The movie centers around four lifelong friends portrayed by Houston, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine, who resort to each other in times of need and anytime they’re experiencing troubles in the love area. Over the course of Waiting to Exhale, each of the four key protagonists learn something about their closest friends, the men they think they love, and most of all, themselves.
There have long been thoughts of developing a sequel for Waiting to Exhale, but the concept of having a subsequent movie without Whitney Houston as Savannah “Hannah” Jackson just seems like it could never work out.
3. The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Whitney Houston followed up her performance in Waiting to Exhale with Penny Marshall’s 1996 supernatural and religious comedy The Preacher’s Wife in which the actress-singer portrays Julia Bigg, the usually mistreated wife of Courtney B. Vance’s Reverend Henry Biggs. With their marriage, and Henry’s church in risk, the preacher begs on God for a miracle, and he obtains one in the form of Denzel Washington’s Dudley, a genuine angel sent from the skies.
Although the movie falls into the tropes of a romantic comedy with a lack of communication by a married couple, prying eyes and gossip mongers, and a predictable ending, the chemistry shared by Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington makes The Preacher’s Wife worth revisiting. And like the previous two movies starring Houston, this 1996 holiday season release gave the famed vocalist even more to work with on the chart-topping soundtrack.
4. Sparkle (2012)
Whitney Houston spent years seeking to get the rights to release a remake of the 1976 musical drama Sparkle, which was inspired by the Motown group The Supremes, and she eventually achieved her wish in 2012. Houston would never get to see the finished product or Jordan Sparks’ inspirational performance as Sparkle Anderson as the film was released six months after the iconic singer’s February 2012 death. In the film, which was devoted to the memory of the late musician, Houston plays Emma Anderson, Sparkle’s overbearing mother who turned to her church after her own musical career faded out.
And while though Sparkle may not be known for being the best movie of its sort, it does have some outstanding performances by Whitney Houston, Jordan Sparks, and the rest of the star-studded and incredibly talented cast of actors and singers. Loaded with loads of drama and even more musical performances, Sparkle has enough to make it be remembered for more than just being Houston’s final on-screen appearance.
5. Whitney (2018)
In the years following the 2012 death of Whitney Houston, there were several documentaries and television specials on the late singer’s life and career, but few delve into as great of detail as Kevin Macdonald’s 2018 documentary film Whitney, which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Filled with disturbing revelations about Houston’s upbringing, including shocking allegations that the acclaimed singer was molested as a child, the documentary doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of people surrounding her in her rise and subsequent fall from grace in her later years. Houston’s family members would later come out saying that the claims were inaccurate and found the depiction of the incident to be dishonest on the filmmakers’ behalf.
Other aspects of the 2018 documentary deal on Whitney Houston’s marriage to Bobby Brown and how the relationship affected the late singer’s music career, the connection with her parents, and her ascent to stardom as a chart-topping singer in 1980s.