The Bodyguard was one of the biggest cinematic hits of 1992, propelled to the top of the box office by a kickass Dolly Parton cover, some great chemistry between stars Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, and a poster that just sort of put its very elemental hook out there for all to see: After all, don’t we all wish Kevin Costner would whisk us off to safety in his big, beefy Field Of Dreams-y arms?
Yet sadly, that illusion was broken this week—as was the centuries-old concept of love itself—when Costner revealed to Entertainment Weekly that it was not Houston he was carrying in the iconic shot, but her body double. (Presumably Joyce Larkin, who’s credited as Houston’s stunt double on the film, although Costner doesn’t mention the woman’s name.) Houston had reportedly already gone home for the day when it was time to take the photo, taking our dreams of trust and security with her. So instead, Larkin is the one with her face carefully hidden in Costner’s neck, signifying both vulnerability, and a certain, ephemeral not-being-Whitney-Houston-ness that’s apparently so central to the photo’s success.
Interestingly, Costner apparently had to sell producers on the idea of using the photo as the film’s main promotional image, on the not incomprehensible grounds that Whitney Houston fans might like to see Whitney Houston’s face on posters for the Whitney Houston movie. (There were apparently mock-ups made that re-inserted images of Houston’s head onto Larkin’s body, which sounds like some real Excorcist neck-twisting nightmare shit, given the angles involved.)
Anyway, Costner was right—financially anyway; we’re not sure what our hearts will think—and The Bodyguard went on to be the second-most successful movie of 1992. Still, it raises the question: When Whitney sings “I Will Always Love You,” who are any of those pronouns even addressing? God, we’re not even sure about “Always” at this point. Costner, what have ye wrought?