Chase said Houston bonded with her 22-year-old co-star, Jordin Sparks, the "American Idol" winner who wowed audiences with her gorgeous looks and powerful voice on the show in 2007. She said the two shared similarities: Both Sparks and Houston had been thrust into the spotlight in a big way at a young age -- Sparks with "Idol" and Houston with the 1992 blockbuster film, "The Bodyguard."
"She saw herself in Jordin," Chase said. "When she wasn't working and Jordin was performing [she would say], 'I've got to come-- I've got to come up and see my baby.'"
When it was time to tape Sparks' big moment in film, her solo on the song "One Wing," Houston, her idol, was there.
"There was this moment where she came up from the audience and I was walking on the set," Sparks said. "She goes, 'Come here.' She's standing there, and she put my face in her hands, and she was like, 'You're everything that we were looking for,' and I just completely lost it. Here's this person that I've looked up to my entire life telling me that I am what she was looking for, and I was just like, 'I don't even know what to say.'"
One of the most emotional pinnacles of "Sparkle" is when Houston, her character's voice battered yet still beautiful, belts out the song, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." It's a song that resonates with her own gospel roots before she became a giant star, and then flamed out earlier this year. But Chase said Houston wasn't envious of newcomer Sparks' budding career.
"Whitney's struggle in life was to get off the platform," she said. "She was born onto the platform. She had that voice, she had those looks, and she knew it, and it was a part of her that appreciated it, and a part of her that resented that."
Sparks also said there was no hint of the singing legend's stormy past when she teamed up with Houston for a duet on the song, "Celebrate" -- another dream come true for the young singer. Houston recorded the track on Feb. 8. Five days later, she was dead.
For Chase, the film's release is bittersweet. She is releasing a treasured project without its biggest star, who is now a haunting voice from the grave and a reminder of what was.
"I feel like this is my gift to her," Chase said. "This movie will be what people remember, not the crazy pictures of her coming out of the nightclub. They will remember her beautiful and spiritual and strong and passionate from this movie."