How ‘Yellowstone’s Kevin Costner Was The Mastermind Behind Dolly Parton Cover in ‘The Bodyguard’

by Katie Maloney
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Did you know Kevin Costner was the guy who suggested that Whitney Houston record “I Will Always Love You” for the movie The Bodyguard?

He’s a sports movie legend, he’s a cowboy icon, he’s a Hollywood star. When it comes to the entertainment industry, there isn’t a whole lot Kevin Costner can’t do. And this includes music. Although Kevin Costner isn’t a world-renowned musician himself, he has an ear for hit songs. This was especially the case when he starred in and co-produced the 1992 film The Bodyguard. During the movie, Costner plays Frank, a former secret service agent. Frank is hired to work as a bodyguard for best-selling pop superstar Rachel, played by Whitney Houston. The movie released one of the world’s most iconic love songs, Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You.”

However, Whitney wasn’t initially planning on recording the song. In fact, the movie’s soundtrack producer, David Foster, already picked out a lead song for the movie. He chose, “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” a midtempo track by Jimmy Ruffin. But there was one problem, Foster only liked the hook of the song. And a movie soundtrack needs more than just a catchy hook. So, Costner suggested Houston sing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Kevin Costner Pitched “I Will Always Love You” to Whitney Houston and Her Producers

No one was convinced that the song would be a hit, at first. But Costner wasn’t taking no for an answer. During an interview, Kevin Costner shared what it was like to pitch the song to Whitney Houston and her producers.

“When I said to Whitney, ‘You’re gonna sing ‘I Will Always Love You,’ the ground shook,” Costner said. “Clive Davis and those guys were going, ‘What?!'”

But Costner knew the crew had a a future hit on their hands.

“I said, ‘This is a very important song in this movie.’ I didn’t care if it was ever on the radio. I didn’t care. I said, ‘We’re also going to do this a cappella at the beginning. I need it to be a cappella because it shows a measure of how much she digs this guy — that she sings without music.'”

So, how did Dolly Parton feel about Whitney Houston’s version of the song? She’s always been vocal about her admiration for Houston’s version of the song. And Kevin Costner also opened up about a conversation he had with Dolly after Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You.”

“She said something to me off the record, so I won’t ever repeat it, but it was so beautiful, and it was so Dolly,” said Costner. “It was generous and it was funny — everything that she is — but it was a big thank you. It was a big, fat thank you.”