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Forest Whitaker

Real name: Forest Steven Whitaker
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single
Partner: Keisha Whitaker (1996-present)

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Biography

Forest Steven Whitaker (born July 15, 1961) is an American actor, producer, and director. For his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker won several major awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA. He became the fourth African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, following in the footsteps of Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and Jamie Foxx.

As a teenager, Whitaker commuted from Carson to wealthy Palisades High School on LA's West Side. There, he was all-league defensive tackle on the football team quarterbacked by Jay Schroeder, a future NFL player. While in high school, he also took voice lessons, performed in musicals, and caught the "acting bug" ; his first role as an actor was the lead in Dylan Thomas' play, Under Milk Wood. Whitaker graduated from "Pali High" in 1979.

Whitaker then attended the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona on a football scholarship, but left due to a debilitating back injury. He was accepted to the Music Conservatory at the University of Southern California (USC) to study opera as a tenor, and subsequently was accepted into the University's Drama Conservatory. He graduated from USC in 1982. He also earned a scholarship to the Berkeley, California branch of the Drama Studio London.

Whitaker played a serene, pigeon-raising, bushido-following, mob hit man in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, a 1999 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Many consider this to have been a "definitive role" for Whitaker. In a manner similar to his preparation for Bird, he again immersed himself in his character's world—he studied Eastern philosophy and meditated for long hours "to hone his inner spiritual hitman." Jarmusch has told interviewers that he developed the title character with Whitaker in mind; the New York Times review of the film observed that, "t's hard to think of another actor who could play a cold-blooded killer with such warmth and humanity."

In 2001, Whitaker had a small, uncredited role in the Wong Kar-wai-directed The Follow, one of five short films produced by BMW that year to promote its cars. He co-starred in Joel Schumaker's 2002 thriller, Phone Booth, with Kiefer Sutherland and Colin Farrell. That year, he also co-starred with Jodie Foster in Panic Room. His performance as the film's "bad guy" has been described as "a subtle chemistry of aggression and empathy."Whitaker as General Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland

Whitaker's greatest success to date is the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland. To prepare for his role as dictator Idi Amin, Whitaker gained 50 pounds, learned to play the accordion, and immersed himself in research. He read books about Amin, watched news and documentary footage, and spent time in Uganda meeting with Amin's friends, relatives, generals, and victims; he also learned Swahili and mastered Amin's East African accent.

Whitaker also served as an executive producer on First Daughter. He had previously executive produced several made-for-television movies, most notably the 2002 Emmy-award winning Door to Door, starring William H. Macy. He produced these projects through his production company, Spirit Dance Entertainment, which he shut down in 2005 to concentrate on his acting career.



 


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