Moonlight and Judas and the Black Messiah actor Ashton Sanders has signed on to play R&B icon Bobby Brown in the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Deadline reported the casting news Monday, stating Black Label Media will co-finance the film with Compelling Pictures and Primary Wave Music.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker actress Naomi Ackie will play late pop music star Houston in the movie, which Kasi Lemmons is directing. The project has the support of Houston’s estate and her longtime music producer and friend, Clive Davis.
The Photograph director Stella Meghie was initially attached to helm the picture, but quit due to creative differences. The Theory of Everything screenwriter Anthony McCarten penned the script and production is expected to begin soon. It is scheduled for theatrical release on Dec. 23, 2022.
Houston sold more than 200 million records worldwide and won six Grammy Awards. She also made a memorable acting debut in the 1992 romantic thriller, The Bodyguard. Her other film credits include The Preacher’s Wife, Waiting to Exhale and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
Brown was a member of the 1980s pop group New Edition and had a successful, Grammy-winning solo career with hits like “My Prerogative,” “Every Little Step” and “Roni.” Brown and Houston were married for 15 tumultuous years during which they frequently found themselves the target of the tabloid media. They divorced in 2007. After years of battling drug addiction, Houston tragically drowned in a hotel bathtub while high on cocaine in 2012. She was 48. Houston left behind one child she shared with Brown — a daughter named Bobbi Kristina, who died in 2015 at the age of 22.
A remake of The Bodyguard is currently in the works at Warner Bros. The Inheritance playwright Matthew López is writing the screenplay. No casting or director have been announced yet for the updated version of the film.