Lifetime is slowly but surely bringing things together for their upcoming Whitney Houston biopic! Days after giving us a first look at YaYa DaCosta as Whitney, they’ve now released a happy couple photo with Arlen Escarpata as Bobby Brown. Expect to see many of Whitney and Bobby’s throwback looks on these two since the film will focus on Whitney’s career and personal life from the early- to mid- ’90s.
Angela Bassett recently caught up with Entertainment Weekly to talk about her directorial debut with Whitney, and she revealed how she would tackle Whitney and Bobby’s controversial relationship. She also said she decided to go with newcomers instead of more established actors because she wants viewers to see the characters, not famous faces.
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.
On whether Bobby left a positive or negative impression on her
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.
On if we will see the positive side of Bobby Brown in the movie
Yes, I hope so. Yes, that’s my desire.
On if Bobby Brown is involved with the film
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.
On why she decided to cast newcomers
Because I want you to fall into the world of Whitney and Bobby. And I don’t want to stop you at the gate with maybe the image of something familiar, someone you’ve seen from something else. You’ve already got your perception of them as an actor and person, and now you’ve got to put that to the side and squint your eyes and imagine this is Whitney and Bobby, you know what I mean? (Laughs)
And listen. Let me tell you something. We sat in the casting process and it is no easy feat for an actor to come into a room, bare their soul, to open themselves up to these words, this process, and these people. It’s not like, Oh my gosh, I have six good choices for Bobby. No, you don’t, you have two. Searching for weeks and only two rise to the top. They had different qualities that are like Bobby. You’ve gotta be like, which way do you want to go? And the same with Whitney. There are maybe one and then another. But Yaya was far and above the only choice, you know.