Not only is the pressure on to do her late friend justice but also appease fans who are monitoring every aspect of the film. Nevertheless, with all the drama brought on by Houston’s family and fans, Bassett seems unfazed by it all.
The Oscar-nominated actress took time out to speak on her directorial debut to Entertainment Weekly as well as her first impression of Bobby Brown and the decision to not cast Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina as her mother in the film.
Highlights from the interview are below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you choose Whitney Houston as your first directorial project?
ANGELA BASSETT: I obviously had worked with Whitney and, you know, just fell in love with her as the rest of the world did. And when this opportunity was brought my way, it really was something I couldn’t say no to. I felt that if I said no and let it pass, I could imagine having a great deal of regret, you know? I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful sista, which is of course an opportunity for me to grow as a woman and as an artist in many expected and unexpected ways.
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.
The film specifically focuses on Bobby and Whitney’s relationship, which might be the most controversial aspect of her life. Does that make it easier or harder for you?
AB: Well, it was easy. I can’t say it was difficult. You know, I reflect it back on the moment I first saw them together. 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.
A positive or negative impression?
AB: Just positive. He wasn’t loud. He wasn’t over the top. He wasn’t a showboat. He was grounded. His energy felt grounded and serious and supportive and loving. Without trying.
Is Bobby involved in the film? Has he given it his okay?
AB: No. Bobby is not involved in the film. Of course, we’re very sensitive to whatever the relationships might be or what we have heard or what we perceive his relationship between her family and him. So we’re trying to be respectful.
In uplifting her memory to the highest standard possible, did you ever think about casting her daughter Bobbi Kristina as Whitney herself?
AB: No, 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.
Needless to say, Bobbi Kristina did not appreciate being passed over in playing her mother onscreen. Responding on Twitter, Bobbi Kristina had more than a couple of words directed towards Bassett via social media:
“Ha MsAng “bassketcase” has such a damn nerve. My lord, at least the world doesn’t mistake me for the wrong sex..[sunglasses emjoi] she has #XtraEequipment,” Bobbi Kristina tweeted. “When I win my first Grammy or Oscar, *Shrugs* hmm whichever comes1st, I’ll be sure 2shout URname out b-tch ! hahUrTestResults= MALE. Lmao [crying laughing emoji]”
Whoa, dang Miss Bobbi K … we know you got issues, but you need to slow yo’ roll and quit being so disrespectful.
Anyway, for more of Angela Bassett’s interview with Entertainment Weekly, click here.