Kevin Costner

Costner on Houston: 'the burden that made her great ... caused her to stumble'

Feb. 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM ET

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"Whitney was scared the biggest pop star in the work wasn't sure if she as good enough," Costner said at Houston's funeral.

"This feels right," said actor Kevin Costner from the podium at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church where he was one of a handful of speakers to honor the late Whitney Houston.

For his part of the service, he recalled casting Houston as his costar in "The Bodyguard," explaining to those gathered that "I Will Always Love You" "wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The first choice was  'What Becomes of a Broken Heart.' ... what becomes of our broken heart?"

The actor went on to explain that he and Houston had more in common than meets the eye. "I know a lot of people are thinking: 'Really? She’s a girl, you're a boy. You're white, she’s black.'" Like Houston, Costner spent his formative years in a baptist church and it's a commonality they discussed at length as they got to know each other.

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"I told Whitney I always worried God would ask me to be preacher," said Costner. "Whitney said she wasn’t worried at all. She told God she would be like Aretha and her famous cousin Dionne."

Costner continued: "At the height of her fame as a singer, I asked her to be my costar. I thought she was the perfect choice. But the red flags came out immediately." Costner convinced the studio, Warner Bros., to postpone filming for a year so that Houston could tour.

"It was a lot for the studio to accept and to their credit they did but not without a screen test," he said. "Whitney would have to earn it. Whitney was scared the biggest pop star in the work wasn’t sure if she as good enough. I held her hand and told her she looked beautiful and that everyone wanted her to be successful but I could still feel the doubt."

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The studio fell in love with her, he added. "It was the burden that made her great and the part that caused her to stumble again."

Tearing up, Costner concluded: "Whitney, if you could hear me now I would tell you you weren’t just good enough, you were great... I was your pretend bodyguard not too long ago and now you’re gone. Off you go, Whitney -- escorted by an army of angels and your heavenly father. When you stand before him, don’t you worry. You’ll be good enough."

Coster received a standing ovation for his comments.

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