Angela Bassett is spear heading the Lifetime movie about Whitney Houston. She has garnered criticism from Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina and fans. The famed actress turned director wants everyone to be clear she is not after butchering the legacy of the superstar.
The upcoming biopic—titled Whitney Houston—will focus on the pop singer’s relationship with Brown; it’s the first film about Houston since her untimely death two years ago at age 48. Starring Yaya Dacosta in the title role and scheduled to air on Lifetime in 2015, it’s a personal project for Bassett, who first met Houston on the set of their 1995 film Waiting to Exhale and one in which she’ll make her directorial debut. Bassett—a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee—spoke to EW about the film; she shared 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.
She had an in-depth discussion with CNN on her choice of film and the reasons certain areas are focused on during filming.
On why she chose this as directorial debut
I had been looking for, hoping for, if I were to direct, a story that I felt deeply passionate about. One that I could stay up all night just thinking about, caring for and nurturing. I’ve had opportunities in the past, but nothing that just grabbed me like this did. I could only hope that the script would support my desire, and it did. It had to be grateful, respectful, honest, and all those things, because we know in her lifetime there was a great deal of pressure and scrutiny. I didn’t want this story to add to that.
On why she will focus on Bobby and Whitney’s marriage:
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.
She also said that Houston’s substance abuse will be addressed. “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,” Bassett said. “It’s involved, and I hope we can unpack it gently .Houston’s family is not involved with the production.
Angela says specifically:
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. They certainly could have been not involved and against it.