'Sparkle' stars remember Houston

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

Everyone who worked with Whitney Houston on the film Sparkle has a story to share.

Sparkle is a remake of the iconic 1976 film, which was partly inspired by the rags-to-riches story of The Supremes. This version was a bit of an obsession for Houston, who loved the film and was determined to be part of it.

When Sparkle proved to be the late singer's last movie, the simplest interactions became important memories for her colleagues.

- Director Salim Akil says he and Houston both felt shy at their first meeting, at least until she found out his mother was a singer who had once opened for James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner. "And both our mothers went back to the church, in terms of their career, so it was easy to bond." Working with Houston left him feeling like a kid in a candy shop, he says. "She came to work every day, she had notes on her script, we talked about it every day and she had totally given herself over to the character"¦. afterward, she said, 'We'll have to do this again.' She was proud of the work she did and excited about it. I was looking forward to her next movie and hoping it would be mine."

- "On set, Whitney was just one of us," says Jordin Sparks. "She wanted to see everyone else do well. She would come to set just to watch some of the scenes, even if she wasn't working that day. It doesn't matter how big you get, you're not too big to say hi or smile at somebody, or have a conversation, and to have that example from Whitney, having idolized her, was incredible."

- Actress Tika Sumpter, cast as the sensible sister Dee in the film, says, "I loved working with her because of her spirit. She's obviously a fighter and she's gone through a lot in life, and anything I could learn from her, I would just listen with every piece of my existence. When I heard I'd be playing one of her daughters, it was a big deal to me. Sometimes, sitting next to her on set, it was surreal. There are very few people I get nervous around in this industry, but she's one of them. Her spirit was joyful and fun and it was a great experience for me."

- Mike Epps, who plays the nefarious Satin in the film, says it was amazing to hear Houston singing in the makeup trailer. "She was doing her hair, and she was playing Michael Jackson in there and she was singing with it, and it sounded like both of them were in there! "It sounded like they were both in there getting their hair done."

- Omari Hardwick (Kick Ass; The A-Team) says he too had a musical moment with Houston when he asked her to sing. "On the set I leaned in and whispered to her, 'Whitney, can you sing a little bit of You Give Good Love To Me?' She leaned back and said, 'Oh, Omari, that was so long ago!' and she said it in a way that affected me because she made it look like she couldn't still do it. And I said, 'Girl, you sing it better now than you probably did back then', so she gave me a little bit of it. The head makeup girl took a picture, with Whitney with her head back, singing, and I have that picture at home."

- Carmen Ejogo, who stars as Sister, says, "This meant so much to her. She obsessed about this project since she was 13. She watched the original every single Saturday for months after it came out. Now, I feel like we're part of something that's such a goodbye gift, wrapped in this perfect bow. "With her passing it just becomes more intense for me."

 


Photos