Abandoned Sequels: THE BODYGUARD 2 - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Abandoned Sequels: THE BODYGUARD 2

From Queen Of The Night to Princess Of Wales...

Released in 1992 to almost entirely negative reviews, The Bodyguard defied each and every one of those critics by going on to make $411 million worldwide, against a $25 million budget, becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 1992 and spawning the best selling soundtrack of all time with more than 45 million copies sold to date.

The Bodyguard follows a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect a music superstar from an unknown stalker. The screenplay was originally written in the mid-1970s by Laurence Kasdan (who also co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders Of The lost Ark and many other successful movies) and was intended to be a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross. 15 years of development hell saw the on-screen talent change multiple times throughout development, until Kevin Costner was signed up as Frank Farmer, the titular bodyguard, and Whitney Houston, in her acting debut, took the role of Rachel Marron.

As well as the huge box office return, the soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and the singles "I Have Nothing" and "Run to You" received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Plus, of course, Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" was number one for, what seemed like, forever and constantly played on the radio. Meaning long-after the film had finished its cinematic run the home video release was getting massive publicity thanks to the stream of hit records and accolades the soundtrack spawned.

After The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston briefly became the highest paid actress in Hollywood, commanding $10 million for her role in The Preacher's Wife, but, despite a well received turn in Waiting To Exhale, never manged to capitalise further on her debut cinematic success. Kevin Costner, who was arguably at the height of his fame at the time of The Bodyguard's release after hits like Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Dances With Wolves, JFK and Field Of Dreams, would go on to make some questionable decisions with his career; including box-office bombs Wyatt Earp and The Postman, plus the ludicrously expensive Waterworld.

By 1997 Costner was in need of a decent box-office hit and often responded favourably when questioned about the possibility of a sequel to The Bodyguard. It made sense, not only because the original had performed so well but also because the ending of the film saw Costner's character moving on to a new client. There was more story to tell for Frank Farmer, but I doubt anyone thought that he'd trade in his Queen Of The Night for a Princess Of Wales.

In a 2012 US talk show interview, given shortly after Whitney Houston's death, Kevin Costner revealed that the premise for The Bodyguard 2 would see his character assigned to protect a princess living estranged from the royal family. In much the same way that Whitney Houston was cast as a vulnerable pop star, essentially playing a fictionalised version of herself, the princess in the sequel was to be played by someone who'd had a bit of experience at being estranged from their Royal family, Princess Diana.


It seems that Kevin Costner had met with Diana, Princess Of Wales through fellow estranged royal Sarah, Duchess Of York, as he discusses above. This was at some time in 1996 or '97 and talk turned to The Bodyguard and a potential sequel...
“Diana and I had been talking about doing Bodyguard 2, I told her I would take care of her just the same way that I took care of Whitney. She wanted me to write it for her. I said: ‘I’ll tailor it for you if you’re interested.’ She goes: ‘I am interested.'” 
Now obviously Princess Diana was not exactly known as an actress, but then neither was Whitney Houston prior to 1992. Understanding the limitations, Costner, with producer Jim Wilson, had a screenplay developed specifically for Diana. As Wilson explained,
"We were smart enough to write a role for her that didn't take her beyond her qualifications as an actress."
That being zero qualifications then!

To be fair, it doesn't sound like she would've been stretched as Diana's princess character was to be called Julia, and be living in exile in Hong Kong. Costner's Farmer would be assigned to shield her from the constant hounding by the paparazzi and stalkers. It was, essentially, Diana playing Diana in all but name.

What happened next is tragic, and the timing of events is almost as if it's taken from a page of a Hollywood script itself.

The completed screenplay for The Bodyguard 2 landed on Kevin Costner's desk on August 31st 1997. That same day, Princess Diana died after a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris while the driver was fleeing from the paparazzi. The only person who survived the crash was Diana's bodyguard.

As the world went into mourning, Costner opened The Bodyguard 2 script for the first time. He revealed,
"I picked it up and the first 30 pages were totally her. It was dignified, sexy, smart, funny – and I couldn't finish. I stopped. It broke my heart." 
For very obvious reasons, any further development on The Bodyguard 2 was shut down.

In 2011, Warner Bros. announced they were rebooting The Bodyguard, with a brand new, younger cast. Almost a decade on nothing has come of that as yet, but Kevin Costner still occasionally talks about the time he nearly returned as the character of Frank Farmer,
"I had a good second Bodyguard script... that would've made a really good sequel."
We will never know.

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