Whitney director Kevin MacDonald has opened up about the mystery surrounding Whitney Houston’s death, revealing that despite interviewing everyone who was close-by when she passed he could never get to the bottom of what happened.
The Scottish filmmaker even went as far as to tell me, “It was obvious there was a whole cover-up there.”
“I talked to pretty much everyone who was close-by or in the hotel when Whitney died, which I did because her assistant Mary said to me that she believed someone else was in the room when she died.”
“Because when Mary went in and found her body floating in the bath, the taps in the bath were off but the water, there was like 6 inches of water on the floor. So she said the bath had obviously been overflowing and somebody had come in and turned them off. So I thought, ‘What a mystery’.”
Despite MacDonald’s best efforts he “could never actually get to the truth” regarding the passing of Houston, who died on February 11, 2012, after she was found submerged in the bathtub of Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The official coroner’s report showed that Houston accidentally drowned, while heart disease and cocaine were also listed as contributing factors.
“I had like 5 or 6 people, all of whom had different stories about when they last saw Whitney. Whether they gave Whitney drugs. Whether they didn’t give her drugs. And it was obvious there was a whole cover-up there.”
“I could only find out that these people were contradicting each other. And I think that was sort of what it was like interviewing people about her in general. It is easy enough to know that they are not telling the truth, but it is hard to confront them with what the truth is because you don’t know what it is. You just know that a lie has been told.”
“Whitney” doesn’t actually focus that much time on Houston’s death, so I suggested to MacDonald that if he had included the contradictions surrounding that fateful evening the documentary would have been twice as long.
“It could have been even longer. Because what I started to see with Whitney was that her life story was very simple, but to understand it you needed so much context.”
“It became a bit like [‘OJ: Made In America’] in a way. I could have easily done a 4 hour piece, which was about more and more context.”
“The gospel singing, attitudes towards sexuality in the African American community, her father’s time in the second World War and how he wasn’t allowed to fight on the front line because he was black and how that made him feel and how it influenced the way that he was towards the white world later on when he was Whitney’s manager.”
“There are so many interesting, social issues around her that I became fascinated by. But in a documentary like this, which is two hours long, you can’t go into.”
“That’s one of the reasons why we developed the technique of those sort of micro flashes of different archives, of different politicians and things that were going on at the time. That contextualized the movie almost in a subliminal way because that was a way of telling the audience that there was a whole other level of complexity here that we could only indicate to.”
“We had to hope that they knew a bit about it, and hopefully that would make them have a richer understanding of the film.”
“Whitney” is in cinemas on Friday July 6.