Naomie Ackie Says ‘97 Percent’ Of I Wanna Dance With Somebody ‘Is Whitney Singing And It Shouldn’t Be Any Other Way’ – Exclusive Image

I Want To Dance With Somebody

by Owen Williams |

Bohemian Rhapsody. Rocketman. Elvis. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. The musical biopics just keep coming. Next to grab the mic is I Wanna Dance With Somebody, chronicling Whitney Houston's journey from the church choir to her massive breakthrough into the music industry and her knock-out (and record-setting) performances and songs, including her memorable 1991 Super Bowl rendition of the national anthem.

The Rise Of Skywalker’s Naomie Ackie plays the troubled megastar, and while it sounds as if she could hit the right notes herself when asked, she’s more than happy that it’s (mostly) Whitney’s voice that audiences will be hearing when the music starts. “I could fill some of the spaces,” Ackie tells Empire. “When I belt, it’s a similar tone to [Houston’s voice]… and [after the audition, during which she sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’] the conversation was like, “Oh, well, you have a similar range to Whitney.’ But 97 percent of it is [still] Whitney singing, and it shouldn’t be any other way.”

Ackie says she watched hours and hours of footage in an attempt to “access Whitney’s inner world” and “monitor her changing vocal tone in her speaking voice as she ages, and how her accent changes.” In the end, however, the actress realised that no matter how much she tried to channel the legend, it would still only ever be a performance: a hopefully stunning one, but a performance nonetheless. “It got to a point where I had absorbed so much, I had to let it go,” she says. Portraying such a musical legend was quite the hill to climb – but, as Whitney herself sang, who knows what miracles you can achieve, when you believe?

Empire Dec 22

Read Empire’s full I Wanna Dance With Somebody story in the new Review Of The Year issue – on sale Thursday 27 October, or pre-order a copy here. I Wanna Dance With Somebody is in cinemas from 26 December.

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