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Denzel Washington wanted to ‘protect’ Whitney Houston on the set of ‘The Preacher’s Wife’

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The Hollywood actor starred alongside the singer in the Oscar-nominated 1996 film.

Hollywood actor Denzel Washington. Picture: Bang Showbiz.

DENZEL Washington wanted to “protect” Whitney Houston when he worked with her on “The Preacher’s Wife.”

The “Man on Fire” actor, 69, starred alongside the singer in the Oscar-nominated 1996 film, 16 years before she died aged 48 from accidental drowning, with contributing factors of heart disease and cocaine use.

Nearly three decades after the movie came out, Washington recently revealed at the African Black Film Festival him feeling protective towards the “I Will Always Love You” hitmaker: “I felt like I always wanted to protect her.”

The event host, Chaz Ebert, who is the widow of the late film critic Roger Ebert, added: “There was a vulnerability that you saw.”

Washington asked: “So you really got that?” and when Ebert, 71, said she did, the actor went on: “Well, of course. I always felt like I wanted to protect her. You know?

“She wanted to be so tough, but she really wasn’t. That’s all. Okay.”

“The Preacher’s Wife” was a remake of 1947’s “The Bishop’s Wife” and also starred Courtney B Vance, Jenifer Lewis, Gregory Hines and Justin Pierre Edmund, while Lionel Richie, Loretta Devine and the songstress’s mother Cissy Houston also had roles.

Houston is said to have grown close to several of the cast, and Vance, 64, who played her husband Reverend Henry Biggs in the family film, has said he was in awe of the singer.

He added: “I loved her so much. For me to be playing her husband, I was in a state of euphoric shock.

“It was a turning point in my life and Whitney was a huge, huge part of that.

“We just were on sets together and respecting each other.

“But I didn’t go into the depth of what was happening in her life.”

He also admitted he was too devastated to attend her funeral, adding: “It might have hurt my spirit. And I have in my mind our time together and it was beautiful.”

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