Costner on Houston's New Album: 'I Knew This Day Was Coming'

Kevin Costner recalls working with Whitney Houston in "The Bodyguard."

July 28, 2009— -- Whitney Houston, the beauty with the megawatt voice, and Kevin Costner, Hollywood's iconic superstar actor, made screen history in "The Bodyguard." 17 years later, Costner still remembers the decision to cast Houston in the film.

"I remember Whitney before she was in the movie," Costner said. "And I just looked at her and I said, 'Oh man, this girl really -- she just really has it.'"

Their on-screen chemistry and Costner's vision for how Houston's singing would thread the film together led to a movie that made an indelible mark and to the most successful film soundtrack of all time.

Costner calls Houston "a true beauty, and such a musical instrument."

"It wasn't really a mystery to me when Whitney ended up in 'The Bodyguard,'" he said, laughing. "I really wanted her. And there was a moment in time where it was -- could have maybe been somebody else. And I said, 'No, I want to wait. I want to wait for Whitney.'"

The film's screenwriter Larry Kasdan, producer Jim Wilson and studio Warner Brothers agreed.

"We postponed the movie for a year to wait for Whitney," Costner said. "That's the game you play a lot of times with movies. Could somebody else play that role? Of course, somebody could have. But, nobody better."

Houston's version of the Dolly Parton-penned song "I Will Always Love You," became the movie's iconic anthem, but Costner said it wasn't even supposed to be in the film. The song they planned to include, "What Becomes of a Broken Heart," appeared in another film that year.

"I didn't want to duplicate that," Costner said. "Dolly's song just was a song that I'd always really, really loved."

When there was concern that a country song performed a cappella wouldn't get enough radio support, Costner recalled saying, "I don't really care. … But I wouldn't be too sure about that."

The song choice wasn't the only long shot. There was also the question of how mainstream audiences would react to a mixed race romance.

"When Whitney was cast there was talk about, well, should we make mention of it, you know, in a scene," he said. "And all parties really looked at each other and we said, 'No ... let's not do that. This is a woman. This is not race."

Costner on Kissing Houston

When the characters kissed in the movie, Costner said it "was just about good old fashioned chemistry. Boy-girl stuff."

"That kiss was all about that," he said. "That was about a man and a woman saying thank you to each other."

Costner joked that "I kissed her once for everybody in America, and I kissed her once for myself."

There's something else you might not know about the man who kissed Whitney Houston for America. The actor, filmmaker, husband and father is on stage in a surprising new role -- lead singer for his own rock-and-roll band, Modern West.

"I, you know, ultimately love to perform," he said. "When I'm on stage playing live is when I actually feel the best. And my wife, for that matter, says that's when I -- she thinks I'm more myself than any other place."

It may be the same for Whitney Houston. As the world looks to the release of her first new album in seven years on Aug. 31, Costner says we'll be glad she's back.

"I knew this day was coming for her," he said. "Because she's too strong, too smart, too talented. And she has so much residual love out there that people have for her. And, you know, we see some of the greatest people we know sometimes have to struggle -- struggle so publicly. And she has. And she's had that ...period that she doesn't want to revisit, doesn't need to revisit. It's part of her."

Legendary producer Clive Davis told "Good Morning America" that one song on the new album called "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" speaks to Houston's resilience. Costner also pointed to his former co-star's ability to bounce back.

"Everybody who's watching, everybody who's done this business, we've all been broken a little bit," Costner said. "We've all been bruised. And life has taken, you know, some big bites out of all of us. But, you know, Whitney Houston has taken some big bites out of life. And we've all been the better for it."

Houston will perform live on "GMA" on Sept. 2. Stay tuned to "GMA" and for more information, and CLICK HERE to visit Whitney Houston's official Web site.