Kevin Costner agreed to speak at Whitney Houston memorial after emotional call from Dionne Warwick

Kevin Costner agreed to speak at Whitney Houston memorial after emotional call from Dionne Warwick

Kevin Coster has revealed he was convinced to speak at Whitney Houston’s memorial after an emotional call from music legend Dionne Warwick.

The 69-year-old Yellowstone star became close with the “I Will Always Love You” singer when he played her love interest in the 1992 hit movie The Bodyguard. They remained close friends for 20 years until Houston’s death, aged 48, in 2012.

Costner was one of eight speakers at her funeral, which took place that year. Others included her sister-in-law and manager Patricia Houston and Warwick.

Costner had initially opted to grieve Houston privately but was unable to refuse Warwick’s request to be part of the public tributes for the singer.

Speaking to People, the actor said it wasn’t his “first instinct” to “rush to the mic” after Houston died. However, when Warwick called, the actor said he could “tell in her voice she was broken”.

“I said yes to her when I had been saying no all week,” he said. “I heard in her voice how tired she was, how many decisions she was probably having to make, who would speak, who wouldn’t speak…I [just] said, ‘Yes.’”

However, after hanging up the phone, Costner immediately began to have doubts about the commitment. “I’m thinking, ‘Why am I speaking? I just was her imaginary bodyguard,’” he said.

Even on the day of Houston’s memorial, which was held at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, the actor was still having second thoughts and attempted to get other A-listers in attendance to take over the role instead.

“I remember looking back and seeing Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey ... I think they were sitting together, and I went, ‘Can you do my speech?’ " he said. “I really wanted them to do it. I didn’t want to go up, but I did.”

Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in ‘The Bodyguard’ (Moviestore/Shutterstock)
Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in ‘The Bodyguard’ (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

Earlier this month, Costner revealed he refused to cut down his 17 minute eulogy when asked to keep his speech brief for TV broadcasters streaming the memorial service.

“I had been working on this speech… and I tried to compile everything I wanted to do and finally crafted this speech,” Costner told Dax Shephard on a recent episode of the actor’s Armchair Expert podcast.

“Somebody said, ‘CNN’s here, they wouldn’t mind if your remarks were kept shorter because they’re going to have commercials.’ And I said, ‘They can get over that. They can play the commercial while I’m talking, I don’t care,’” recalled Costner.

“[I] went back to that church in Newark and it was filled. It was electric. There were two bands playing, the church was alive. It was like, boom!”