The late Princess Diana was beloved by many – and one admirer just so happened to be Kevin Costner. In fact, not only were the pair friends, but the actor was also planning on working with the royal. And over the years, Costner has let slip some details about his relationship with the princess – including a stunning admission about her.
As most know, Diana passed away in 1997 in an accident that shocked practically the whole world. The princess, who had by then divorced Prince Charles, succumbed to injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris on August 31 of that year. Her driver was later discovered to have been under the influence of prescription drugs at the time, while Diana herself hadn’t been using a seat belt.
And following Diana’s death, there was a mass outpouring of public grief – not just in Britain, but also internationally. An estimated two billion people around the globe watched her funeral on television, while so many flowers were left in tribute outside Kensington Gardens that the deepest layer of blooms would ultimately start to decompose in place. Famously, Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, also followed her coffin as it was taken to the funeral service.
Meanwhile, over the years it’s been suggested that the reason why people were so upset about Diana’s passing wasn’t just because of the princess herself, but also partly down to what she represented. You see, even though Diana’s divorce meant she wasn’t technically a member of the royal family when she died, she was still considered by some to be the face of a liberal, more down-to-earth future for the beloved institution.
And on the ten-year anniversary of Diana’s death, academic Deborah Lynn Steinberg spoke to CTV.ca about why her passing had such an impact. Steinberg, who had co-edited the book Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture, and the Performance of Grief, explained that the princess herself had been a “renegade figure who represented the possibility of multicultural, cosmopolitan Britain.”
Diana certainly seemed to have had a rebellious streak to her, in any case. Indeed, while older members of the royal family are considered in some quarters to be old-fashioned and stuffy, Diana certainly wasn’t. When it came to raising her children, for example, she took on several duties herself – doing the school run, for example – rather than leaving them in the hands of staff.
Not only that, but Diana also campaigned for HIV/AIDS victims at a time when there was still a massive stigma against the disease. Reportedly, she defied the royal family by doing so, as they had apparently wanted her to get involved in “something more pleasant.” But Diana nevertheless went on to be photographed holding the hand of a man with AIDS, shocking many people who still believed that the condition was transmitted through touch.
And in keeping with a princess who wanted to be part of a modern world, Diana also had many celebrity friends. Yes, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Freddie Mercury, Gianni Versace and George Michael, among others, were all able to boast that they knew the popular royal.
Interestingly, though, before Diana’s tragic death, she was reportedly thinking of becoming an actress. This was long before Suits star Meghan Markle joined the royal family through her marriage to Harry, of course. And as many of us know, Diana certainly always had the power to captivate an audience.
Diana was a talented dancer, for a start. And in a 2017 interview with The Guardian, her teacher Wayne Sleep recalled a performance that he had done with her. Back then, the princess had danced for her then-husband Charles during a show at the Royal Opera House, with Sleep remembering of that time, “The audience gasped when Diana appeared, as if they’d all taken one huge breath.”
And Diana had actually dreamed of being a ballerina when she was younger, hoping in time that she would be able to master the famously technically difficult form of dance as a career. Yet, unfortunately, as an adult she grew past the approved height of a professional ballerina.
Then there’s a legend that suggests Diana even felt up to the challenge of drag. According to popular lore, she, Freddie Mercury and British comedian Kenny Everett all went out partying together in the 1980s. In particular, the two men decided to dress Diana up as a man and take her to famous London gay club the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
And comedian Cleo Rocos – a frequent co-star of Everett’s – claims to have witnessed that event. In her 2013 book The Power of Positive Drinking, she wrote, “Diana and Freddie were giggling, but she did order a white wine and a beer. Once the transaction was completed, we looked at one another, united in our triumphant quest. We did it!”
What’s more, Rocos said, Diana’s performance was so effective that no one actually recognized her. She added, “When we walked in… we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared. But she loved it.”
So could Diana have taken her performing talents all the way to Hollywood once she was no longer required to carry out her royal duties? Well, according to one star, she could well have done just that. You see, Kevin Costner has claimed that Diana was once in talks to do a sequel to The Bodyguard with him.
The original Bodyguard starred Costner as ex-Secret Service agent Frank Farmer, who is assigned to protect Whitney Houston’s superstar singer Rachel Marron from a violent stalker. Inevitably, despite disliking each other at first, the two fall in love and get together by the film’s end.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, The Bodyguard was a critical disaster upon its release. In fact, movie reviewers slammed the whole project – especially the acting performances of Houston and Costner. And, ultimately, the film was nominated for seven Golden Raspberry Awards, including those for Worst Picture, Worst Actress and Worst Actor.
But regardless of the negative press, The Bodyguard did incredibly well at the box office. The drama was the second-highest earner internationally of 1992, for one, while its soundtrack has also since shifted in excess of 45 million copies. There’s little doubt, then, that a sequel to the movie would have been a shrewd business move.
And it was in 2001 – four years after Diana died – that Costner first mentioned how the princess might well have starred in a Bodyguard sequel. The star told British talk show host Michael Parkinson that he had chatted with Diana “a couple of times” and “explained to her that [he] was going to try to make this movie for her.” In addition, Costner said, Diana “was genuinely interested” at the prospect.
The actor added, moreover, that while Diana had “never committed to saying that she would do the film,” he nevertheless promised to send the script to her when it was finished. The princess was, Costner claimed, “genuinely excited to see” the screenplay. But a horrible twist was on the way: on the very same day that the final script was delivered to Costner, Diana died.
The next time Costner spoke about the aborted project, it was to Anderson Cooper in 2012. And, tragically, his former co-star Houston had also sadly passed away at that point. Two months before the star had given the interview, the singer had died in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton hotel.
On the TV show Anderson, Costner explained, “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.’”
And Costner went on, “[Diana] let me know that her life might be changing at some point, so she was having her own internal struggles.” Diana was indeed having difficulties throughout the 1990s; her issues with her marriage and with her own mental illnesses were well documented.
The plot of the proposed Bodyguard 2 would have seen Costner return as Farmer. And in the role, he’d protect a new person, probably a princess – the part that Diana was in talks to play. In a desperately ironic twist, though, the script involved Costner protecting his ward from the paparazzi, who in real life are still believed to have played a role in Diana’s crash.
In April 2008, you see, after the inquest into Diana’s death had come to an end, the jury concluded that the paparazzi who had been following the princess’ car that night were to blame for her accident along with her driver Henri Paul. Apparently, photographers had not only been following Diana’s car, but they had also taken pictures of the vehicle after the smash.
And Prince Harry has long harbored an understandable anger at the snappers who witnessed the incident. In the 2017 BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days, he stated, “One of the hardest things to come to terms with is [that] the people who chased her into the tunnel were the same people who were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car.”
Harry went on, “And William and I know that; we’ve been told that numerous times by people [who] know that was the case. [Diana had] had quite a severe head injury, but she was very much alive on the back seat. And those people that caused the accident instead of helping were taking photographs of her dying on the back seat.”
Yet while Diana’s death naturally still provokes a lot of emotion from her children, those who knew her as a friend are also still affected. One of them, of course, is Costner himself, and in 2019 he spoke about the princess again to PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing, where he shared more about how he and Diana had nearly worked together.
For example, Costner claimed that despite all her enthusiasm, Diana was worried about one thing when it came to the movie. He said, “I just remember her being incredibly sweet on the phone, and she asked the question… ‘Are we going to have, like, a kissing scene?’”
According to Costner, although Diana made the query “in a very respectful way,” the concern was still there. The actor explained, “She was nervous because her life was very governed. And I said, ‘Yeah, there’s going to be a little bit of that, but we can make that okay too.’”
In the same interview, Costner dropped a bombshell about another royal. Specifically, he alleged that it had been Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who had engineered the first meeting between him and Diana. Costner went on, “Sarah was really important… She was the one that set it up, and she never said, ‘Well, what about me? I’m a princess too.’ She was just so supportive of the idea.”
Diana and Sarah Ferguson, who is popularly nicknamed Fergie, were close in the 1990s. Indeed, in her 1996 autobiography My Story, the duchess said of Diana, “She was two years younger than I, and I strove to support and protect her as I would a younger sister – as I still do today, as a best friend.” So, it’s perfectly possible that she would have gone along with any acting aspirations Diana may have had.
And Costner mentioned Fergie’s involvement with the project again during a second 2019 interview – this time with Ross King on the British morning show Lorraine. There, he said, “Something I always admired about Sarah was how open she was to that idea and how supportive of that idea [she was] and clearly how much she liked Diana.”
But Costner had liked Diana, too, and had seemingly thought of her as more than just a potential co-star. In the Lorraine interview, he sadly said of the late princess, “When we lost her, that was tragic. Incredibly tragic and private to me, actually.” For a long time, the actor added, he hadn’t talked about Diana’s passing.
In fact, Costner’s words about Diana go to show how much she is still missed even today. And over two decades since her death, people still come out to pay tributes. On August 31, 2019, for example, fans of the princess pinned banners to Kensington Palace, with one of them reading, “Diana, Princess of Wales. Forever in our hearts.”
Elsewhere, others paid tribute on social media to mark the anniversary. British singer Gary Barlow, for example, posted to Instagram a picture of his band Take That meeting Diana at an AIDS event. Accompanying the snap, he wrote, “Princess Diana – always in our hearts. We were lucky enough to have the pleasure of spending some time with this amazing woman. She will always be missed.”
And superstar Elton John – a good friend of Diana’s who performed at her funeral – also posted a heartfelt message on Instagram. He shared a picture of himself and the princess happily spending time together, adding the words, “Miss you so much.”
But what might have happened if Princess Diana really had taken a role in The Bodyguard 2? Well, for one, she could potentially have found common ground with Meghan – the daughter-in-law she never met. Royal fans have noticed, after all, that the two women appear to have a number of similarities: impeccable fashion sense, willingness to defy the rules and, it seems, a keenness for acting.
Harry believes that the two women would have been close, too. When he and Meghan gave their post-engagement interview in 2017, for instance, People reported him as saying of his fiancée and his mother, “They’d be thick as thieves, without question. I think [Diana] would be over the moon – jumping up and down [and] so excited for me. But I think she would have been best friends with Meghan.”
So, The Bodyguard 2 with Diana as a star remains a fascinating what-might-have been. And it’s worth noting that the franchise didn’t end with Diana’s death, either, as the story of the original movie was ultimately adapted into a stage musical that opened in London’s West End in 2012. Still, as yet, no official big-screen sequel has been given the green light.