Whitaker, Forest: Actor Profile

Forest Whitaker plays Howard Lewis in the new actioner-thriller, vantage Point.”

One of Hollywood's most accomplished actors-directors-producers, Whitaker has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. Last year, he won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.” Whitaker also received the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA Awards as Best Actor.

In addition to this acclaim, his independent film “American Gun,” which he produced and starred in, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

His other upcoming films include Where the Wild Things Are, which utilizes a mix of live action, animation and puppetry to adapt the Maurice Sendak classic is due for a 2008 release. He will next be seen in The Night Watchman, set for release on April 11. He is currently working on Repossession Mambo, opposite Jude Law.

Whitaker co-starred in David Fincher's Panic Room and Joel Schumacher's Phone Booth. In 2000, Whitaker played the title role of a spiritual gangster in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film premiered at the 1999 Cannes Festival and screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival to critical acclaim. Ghost Dog was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature. The film's soundtrack was a co-venture with Whitaker's own company, Spirit Dance.

Equally impressive are Whitaker's television credits. He continues to garner critical attention for his performance on The Shield, opposite Michael Chiklis, as well as for his appearance on ER, which earned him an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series this year.

In 2003, Whitaker appeared to critical acclaim opposite Ossie Davis in the Showtime movie Deacons for Defense, where he received a SAG nomination for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. Whitaker produced Chasing Papi, the first major studio romantic comedy aimed squarely at the Hispanic movie-going market, for FOX 2000 through Spirit Dance Entertainment.

Whitaker made his feature-film directing debut with the critically acclaimed, box-office hit Waiting to Exhale. He first gained recognition as a director for the 1993 HBO original Strapped, for which he received the FIPRESCI Award for Best First Feature at the Toronto Film Festival. He also directed Hope Floats, starring Sandra Bullock, and The First Daughter, a romantic comedy starring Katie Holmes.

Taking on the role of producer, Whitaker starred in and executive produced the TV miniseries Feast of All Saints, which won an Emmy. Before that, he starred in and executive produced Green Dragon, winner of the Humanitas Award and the SXSW Film Festivals Audience Award. He also produced TNT's Door to Door, starring William H. Macy, which was nominated for two Golden Globes and an Emmy and was honored by the American Film Institute.

His other credits include Witness Protection for HBO, Light It Up, Phenomenon, Species, Smoke, Ready to Wear, Jason's Lyric, Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, Consenting Adults, Stakeout, The Color of Money, Johnny Handsome, Downtown, Diary of a Hit Man, Body Snatchers, Vision Quest and Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

With three college scholarships already under his belt, Whitaker received a 4th scholarship, set up by Sir John Gielgud, upon his entrance to the drama program at Berkeley. A seasoned stage veteran at 21, baby-faced Whitaker made his film debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. From that point onward, Whitaker has been making history.

In 1988, Whitaker was named Best Actor at The Cannes Film Festival for his brilliant portrayal of jazz legend Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's Bird, a role for which he also received a Golden Globe nomination. Whitaker later earned widespread recognition for his performance as Jody, the hostage British soldier in Neil Jordan's Academy Award winner The Crying Game. On television, Whitaker garnered a CableACE Award nomination for his performance in the Showtime original film, Last Light, directed by Kiefer Sutherland. He also starred in the HBO presentation Criminal Justice, for which he earned another CableACE Award nomination, and The Enemy Within, for which Whitaker received a Screen Actor's Guild nomination.

Posted in February 2008