FEB. 14, 1946-AUG. 9, 2003

By Forest Whitaker
December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Farewell: Forest Whitaker pays tribute to Gregory Hines

When I first met Gregory, I was struck by how comfortable he made you feel. I was looking at some photographs from when I directed him in Waiting to Exhale, and in all the pictures you see Gregory laughing or with his arms around people. There was an immediate rapport between him and the women in the movie. He had such a way of connecting with people that seemed effortless, yet he worked hard on his craft. He wasn’t a Method actor; it was more like, How can we make it better? What’s our relationship? He was always up for pushing it a little further. And because he was also a singer, a dancer, a director, a producer, he approached everything holistically. But just because he was so multitalented didn’t mean he liked things showy. We were in Cincinnati working on A Rage in Harlem, and we needed a ride. The studio sent a white limo, and Gregory was like, ”No, no, I just want a car. Can we just get a car?” He really wasn’t into the flash. When he danced he was so magnetic, but in life he was a person anybody could sit with. He had a simplicity, yet an elegance about him. Whatever he did, he was able to leave a piece of magic behind. (Hines died of liver cancer in Los Angeles.)