Kevin Costner doesn’t have a habit of getting involved in sequels, but for a while, there was a real chance of The Bodyguard 2.
Amongst the box office hits of Kevin Costner, few have proven to enjoy anywhere near the success of 1992’s The Bodyguard. Beloved by audiences and reviled by critics, the film was the kind of phenomenon that you’d have thought might have kick started a series, or at the very least led to a sequel. Appreciating, of course, that romcoms rarely get sequels – yet in this case, for a while, there was at least a plan for one.
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan first conceived the idea for The Bodyguard in the 1970s, writing the script as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross. As entertaining as that film would have been, the screenplay floated around in development hell for a while, getting Kasdan an agent but failing to find a studio. After two years, the script was finally sold and John Boorman was brought on to direct. At this point, Diana Ross was still touted to star, but McQueen was out, with Ryan O’Neill taking the lead.
Ross pulled out, however, and the film went back into development hell for over a decade. Meanwhile, Kasdan built a prolific film career through the 1980s, directing Body Heat, The Big Chill, Silverado and The Accidental Tourist, not to mention co-writing iconic franchise films The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Silverado was the catalyst for The Bodyguard, as it was the film on which Kasdan first worked with Kevin Costner, who read the script and became enthused, lobbying for the lead role. He didn’t have the clout immediately to get it going, and it wasn’t until Costner became a huge star with The Untouchables and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that he had sufficient power in the industry to fast track The Bodyguard into production. Which he duly did.
Mick Jackson was brought in to direct, in somewhat stark contrast to his other works like Threads (a film we wrote about here).
The plot of course followed the titular bodyguard as he is assigned to protect global superstar Rachel Marron, played by Whitney Houston. Initially distant, they soon create a bond that develops into love. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the film was I Will Always Love You, written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973. It became Houston’s signature song, as well as the best selling single by a female artist of all time, as well as the sixth best selling single of all time overall.
Released in 1992, the film was a phenomenon, with audiences if not with critics, amassing a box office total of over $400 million on a budget of just $25 million.
Talks soon turned to a sequel, but instead of repeating the story with Houston, Costner instead turned to a more unlikely star – Diana, Princess of Wales.
Sarah Ferguson put the two in touch, with Costner saying in an interview that “Sarah was really important. I always respect Sarah because she’s the one that set up the conversation between me and Diana. And she never said, ‘Well, what about me? I’m a princess too.’ She was just so supportive of the idea.”
In a 2012 interview for Anderson Cooper’s talk show, Anderson, Costner said that that the sequel would have revolved around Frank protecting Diana’s character from paparazzi and stalkers before their relationship turned romantic. The fact that this is a near identical remake of the first film’s plot may have been one of the reasons why the sequel didn’t get far into pre-production, but it’s interesting that Costner entertained it.
Of Diana’s reaction, Costner said that “I just remember her being incredibly sweet on the phone, and she asked the question, ‘Are we going to have, like a kissing scene?’. She said it in a very respectful … she was a little nervous because her life was very governed. And I said, ‘Yeah, there’s going to be a little bit of that, but we can make that okay too”.
The fact that the proposed plot is a near identical remake of the first film’s plot may have been one of the reasons why the sequel didn’t get far into pre-production. Costner claimed that he received the script the day before Diana very sadly passed away after a car crash on the 31 August 1997. Plans for the film stopped immediately.
While The Bodyguard 2 never materialized, the film was eventually turned into a stage musical in 2012, with Alexander Dinelaris adapting Kasdan’s screenplay. Premiering in the West End, the show was so popular it is still touring to this day. I Will Always Love You is a centrepiece of this year’s biopic Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
And to this day too, Costner has never made a sequel to one of his films. Perhaps the closest we’ll get is his currently in production series of four westerns, Horizon. We’re certainly never likely to see The Bodyguard 2…
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