‘She’s Not An Actress:’ Angela Bassett Explains Why Bobbi Kristina Was Not Cast In The Whitney Houston Biopic

June 27, 2014  |  

Lifetime seems to be one huge nest of controversy these days. In addition to receiving backlash over their forthcoming Aaliyah biopic, they’re also facing quite a bit of criticism regarding their film about the life of iconic singer Whitney Houston. The film’s director, Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett, recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about all of the hoopla, and she says she’s not really affected by negative things being said or written about the project.

“It would [affect me] if I read it,” the 55-year-old beauty explained. “I’m sure if it would if I read it, because I’m a feeling person. But I don’t read it, because I want to stay in this place where I’m working with folk who have come to the table and care about this person. And it’s just not by and large another job. We care about the humanity of this woman and man, telling their story. 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. I’m not going to read those negative comments because everyone has something to say.”

The film will center around Whitney’s relationship with former husband, R&B bad boy Bobby Brown, which is arguably one of the most “controversial aspects” of the late singer’s life.

“I reflect it back on the moment I first saw them together,” Angela reminisced. “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.

“We didn’t see any commonality between them and we, having nothing to do with their lives, [shared] our opinions and perception. We didn’t do it with anyone else, very few people. So that’s enormous. But that moment I had, where he visited the set, he made a very strong impression on me.”

The couple’s battle with substance abuse will also be present in the film.

“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.”

Unlike the Aaliyah biopic, which will feature re-recorded versions of the deceased singer’s most popular hits, Angela says producers didn’t face any trouble securing Whitney’s music for the movie. However, as we’ve previously reported, Whitney’s family isn’t actually on board with the project.

“They’re not participating,” the iconic actress explained. “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. They certainly could have been not involved and against it.”

The film, however, will not address the singer’s untimely passing.

“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 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.”

She adds that if the script did include Whitney’s death, she wouldn’t have agreed to do the project.

“That’s one reason why I’m on board. Otherwise, you walk away. You walk away from it. It’s not worth it to me. Not as a black woman to do that to the life of another black woman, who was amazing and lovely.”

As far as casting goes, Angela says that she never really considered casting Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina. You may recall that Krissy came forward and said that she should’ve been cast in the film.

“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.”


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