Pop

Which Pop Star Could Play Whitney Houston's Role in the 'Bodyguard' Remake? Our 8 Picks

Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
Courtesy Everett Collection

Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston in 'The Bodyguard' in 1992.

On Wednesday (Sept. 15), it was announced that the long-rumored remake of The Bodyguard is moving forward, with Tony-nominated writer Matthew López slated to handle the script. Released in 1992 and starring the late Whitney Houston (in her screen acting debut) and two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Costner, The Bodyguard was a resounding success, pulling in $411 million at the global box office.

Of course, the film is perhaps better remembered for its legendary accompanying soundtrack, which went on to become the best-selling soundtrack album of all time worldwide, win the Grammy Award for album of the year, and spend 20 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 albums chart. With enduring Houston hits like “Run to You," “Queen of the Night” and “I Have Nothing,” and of course her classic covers of Dolly Parton's “I Will Always Love You" and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," the Bodyguard soundtrack was a genuine cultural phenomenon.

Whoever is cast in this remake will have to be able to carry a film in a leading role, and deliver a soundtrack that’s at least a tenth as good as the one that Whitney gifted us -- not an easy task, particularly given the late legend's singular gifts. With that in mind, here are our eight best choices for current pop stars who could be cast in the upcoming remake, roughly counting down to our top pick. 

8. Kacey Musgraves

This choice may raise some eyebrows, but there’s a vision here. As of right now, the creative direction of this Bodyguard remake is still unknown. Who’s to say that we can’t reimagine the story as one that’s centered around a country-pop superstar? In terms of music, the six-time Grammy winner has proven that she can deliver tear-jerking ballads and spunky uptempo numbers with ease.

Admittedly, Kacey’s acting experience is limited: The acclaimed singer-songwriter made a cameo as herself in 2018’s Wild Rose, and last December, it was announced that she would voice one of the characters in the English dub version of 2020 Japanese animated fantasy Earwig and the Witch. Just last week Kacey released her fourth studio album, star-crossed, which arrived alongside a 50-minute companion film. Obviously, it would be a big leap for Kacey to lead a live-action film, but there’s very little that she can’t do. 

7. Lil Nas X

What if The Bodyguard was about a Black gay pop star and the soundtrack melded country, rap, rock, pop, and R&B? If the remake decides to completely reinvent the mood of the original, Lil Nas X is the man for the job. The “Call Me By Your Name” singer has a penchant for cinematic music videos (he’s won two VMAs and a Grammy specifically for his videos), and he has a natural charisma that will make him absolutely magnetic on screen.

Similar to Kacey, Lil Nas has very limited acting experience. He’s appeared on FXX’s Dave as himself, and he was recently announced as a guest star for the 2022 Proud Family reboot on Disney+. It’s impossible to recreate the magic of the original film and soundtrack, so why not just take the general plot and run in a completely different direction that’s sure to entertain no matter what? Realistically, Lil Nas’ lack of acting experience and society’s culture of homophobia will make this vision a challenge. Knowing him, however, he’ll probably treat us to some kind of hilarious Bodyguard parody eventually anyway. 

6. Cardi B

Like Lil Nas X, casting Cardi B in the remake of The Bodyguard would be a choice that consciously shifts the new telling of the story out of the shadow of Whitney Houston. Cardi’s infectious personality has buoyed her to stardom just as much as her five Hot 100 No. 1 singles. With the way female rappers are dominating the culture right now, casting Cardi is a more intuitive choice than it may seem at first glance.

Working in the “Up” rapper’s favor is her history with television and film. She was part of Love & Hip Hop: New York’s main cast for two seasons (2015-17), guest-starred in Being Mary Jane (2017), had small roles in Hustlers (2019) and F9 (2021), and she is currently slated to appear in an upcoming film titled Assisted Living. Between her hitmaking ability and obvious comfort in front of the camera, there’s some potential here. Truthfully, Cardi may want to try meatier and more dramatic roles before attempting a leading role like this one, but the door is still open!

5. Miley Cyrus

If a Bodyguard remake starring Miley Cyrus is done well, it could very well be her A Star Is Born-Lady Gaga moment. The world first fell in love with Miley as Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel original series of the same name which ran for four seasons and spawned a theatrical film. Outside of Hannah, Miley has starred in multiple films (Bolt, LOL, The Last Song, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and television series (Two and a Half Men, Black Mirror).

She’s the most capable actress on the list so far, and her ability to transform herself into a new persona for each album proves that she could take on a leading role like this one. Miley also has her fair share of original songs inspired by films: “The Climb,” “Hands of Love,” “When I Look at You,” etc. She knows how to handle soundtracks. This role could be a game-changer for Miley’s career if handled correctly. The main downside to this plan is that, as of late, Miley has seemed to shift her focus towards her music as opposed to acting. 

4. Jennifer Hudson

Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson is no stranger to the silver screen. She’s dominated theaters in Dreamgirls, Sex and the City, and Sing, and her stunning rendition of “Memory” almost made Cats (2019) worth it. In addition, Hudson has conquered Broadway (The Color Purple) and the small screen (Empire and Hairspray Live!). Currently, she’s starring as the legendary Aretha Franklin in the musical biopic Respect. Jennifer Hudson is known for her big vocal moments, so she could definitely deliver power ballads in the vein of “Run to You” or “I Have Nothing.”

A proven actress and vocalist, Jennifer Hudson is one of the strongest choices for the Bodyguard remake -- depending on how closely they want to stick to the original. If cast, this would mark the seventh musical film Hudson stars in. Audiences, and Jennifer herself, may want something different. 

3. Beyoncé

You can’t make a list like this without including Queen Bey. Recently, Beyoncé’s forays into film have come by way of visual albums like 2016’s Lemonade and 2020’s BLACK IS KING. In 2019, she returned to the silver screen in the photorealistic remake of The Lion King starring as Nala. It’s been twelve years since Beyoncé’s last live-action film role: We last saw her as Sharon in the cult classic thriller Obsessed, but she’s also given strong performances in Dreamgirls, Cadillac Records, Austin Powers in Goldmember, and The Fighting Temptations. At one point in time, she was even slated to star in a Clint Eastwood-directed A Star Is Born remake!

With a two-decade career under her belt and countless hit songs and acclaimed albums, Beyoncé could easily deliver an excellent soundtrack. She did it with The Lion King: The Gift, and she can do it again. Everything depends on whether or not Beyoncé would be interested in this remake. Is this how she wants to make her (live-action) return to the big screen? Some may say she’s getting too old for the role, but Queen Bey never ages. 

2. Zendaya

Before her Emmy Award-winning turn on HBO’s Euphoria, Zendaya was a Kidz Bop star and Disney Channel princess. Her musical career on Disney spawned the Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hit “Replay” and the fan favorite “My Baby.” The roles she has taken in the adult phase of her career (the late-2010s Spider-Man films, Malcolm & Marie, Dune) have largely shied away from flaunting her musical talents. It’s been almost five years since the last time Zendaya starred in anything resembling a music-driven film (2017’s The Greatest Showman), and The Bodyguard remake would be the perfect opportunity to rectify that. Zendaya probably couldn’t carry a ballad as hefty as “I Have Nothing” in the way that JHud or Beyoncé could, but she could definitely put her own spin on the music in the film. 

1. Halle Bailey

Halle Bailey, one half of the Grammy-nominated duo Chloe x Halle, is already set to make her big screen debut in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid in 2023. It’s all very exciting stuff, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s next. Halle has acted in four seasons of Grown-ish and secured the iconic role of Princess Ariel; her acting prowess isn’t going to be a worry when it comes to this casting decision. What’s more? Her voice: Halle’s gorgeous jazz-inflected tone can carry everything from lush covers of “Georgia on My Mind” to club bops like “Do It.”

Some may think Halle is too young for a role like this, but if we are to reimagine the story of the film for the 21st century then that isn’t too big of an issue. Whitney Houston was 29 years old when The Bodyguard was released -- Halle is 21 now, but the remake will likely take a number of years to get made. Anyway, Halle is young enough that she could bring in an entirely new demographic of moviegoers, and accurately create a Bodyguard for the younger generation.