Kevin Costner to Speak at Houston's Memorial, Urged by Warwick

Costner reflects on Whitney Houston's impactful memorial service

by Zain ul Abedin
Kevin Costner to Speak at Houston's Memorial, Urged by Warwick
© Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Speaking to PEOPLE in a recent interview, Oscar-winning actor and "Horizon" director Kevin Costner described his deep connection with Whitney Houston, confessing about his active participation in the singer’s lively memorial service.

Recalling the events after Houston’s sudden death in 2012, it is crucial to consider how Costner, who knew the singer from their intimate scenes in the 1992 film The Bodyguard, initially wanted to grieve the loss in private.

However, a passionate appeal from Dionne Warwick changed his mind. Warwick, who was left broken by her sister’s passing and the responsibility of organizing the memorial, reached out to Costner. "I could hear the exhaustion and the strain in her voice; it was clear she was grappling with the enormity of the task - deciding who would speak and who wouldn’t," Costner told.

He stated that, although it was not his first choice, he agreed to speak because he was touched by Warwick’s condition. "I usually shy away from public tributes; I prefer to grieve privately," he explained.

Costner's Emotional Tribute

Though citing certain qualms and describing himself as Houston’s "imaginary bodyguard," Costner was deeply moved by the atmosphere of the memorial held at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, New Jersey.

"The church was electric. Two bands played fervently, and it felt like the very walls could burst into flame," he added. That is why it was clear that Costner would not give the tribute to Houston in any way other than the one he wanted, especially when he was told that he only had five minutes left, as it was being broadcast on live CNN.

He defended himself by stating, "I didn’t come all this way to be cut short. Whitney deserved every word," During the funeral service, Costner gave a passionate 17-minute eulogy that was nearly handed over to members of the audience, Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey, at the last minute because of his nervousness.

Drawn into a deep thought over the day’s happenings, Costner confessed that he had never expected the extent to which Houston’s story moved other people.

Kevin Costner