Forest Whitaker

Actor, Director, Producer
Though actor Forest Whitaker started college on an athletic scholarship, the charismatic and award-winning performer made the unlikely shift from football to studying to become a classical tenor and eventually, an ... Read more »
Born: 07/14/1961 in Longview, Texas, USA

Filmography

Actor (126)

Dope 2015 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Southpaw 2015 (Movie)

Titus "Tick" Willis (Actor)

Taken 3 2015 (Movie)

Franck Dotzler (Actor)

Two Men In Town 2015 (Movie)

James Lennox Garnet/Jihad (Actor)

A Fall From Grace 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Ernest & Celestine 2014 (Movie)

Ernest (Voice)

Food Chains 2014 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Repentance 2014 (Movie)

Angel Sanchez (Actor)

The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Presenter

A Dark Truth 2013 (Movie)

Francisco Francis (Actor)

Africa 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Narrator

Black Nativity 2013 (Movie)

Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Actor)

Lee Daniels' The Butler 2013 (Movie)

Cecil Gaines (Actor)

Mysteries of the Unseen World 2013 (Movie)

Narrator (Actor)

Out of the Furnace 2013 (Movie)

Chief Wesley Barnes (Actor)

Pawn 2013 (Movie)

Will (Actor)

Rising From Ashes 2013 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Sewing Hope 2013 (Movie)

(Narrator)

The Last Stand 2013 (Movie)

Agent John Bannister (Actor)

Zulu 2013 (Movie)

(Actor)

Freelancers 2012 (Movie)

(Actor)

Toys in the Attic 2012 (Movie)

Teddy (Voice)

Catch .44 2011 (Movie)

(Actor)

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Guys Choice 2011 2010 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

The Experiment 2011 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Late Show With David Letterman 2011 (Tv Show)

Guest

The Shield 2005 - 2007, 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Criminal Minds 2010 (Tv Show)

Actor

My Own Love Song 2010 (Movie)

Joey (Actor)

Our Family Wedding 2010 (Movie)

Brad Boyd (Actor)

Repo Men 2010 (Movie)

Jake (Actor)

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

Crips and Bloods: Made in America 2009 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Fragments 2009 (Movie)

Charlie Archenault (Actor)

Hurricane Season 2009 (Movie)

Al Collins (Actor)

The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

Where the Wild Things Are 2009 (Movie)

Ira (Actor)

Dragon Hunters 2008 (Movie)

Voice of Lian Chu (Actor)

Idol Gives Back 2 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Mary 2008 (Movie)

Ted Younger (Actor)

Powder Blue 2008 (Movie)

Charlie (Actor)

Ripple Effect 2008 (Movie)

Phillip (Actor)

Street Kings 2008 (Movie)

Captain Jack Wander (Actor)

The 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The 80th Annual Academy Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The Air I Breathe 2008 (Movie)

Happiness (Actor)

Vantage Point 2008 (Movie)

Howard Lewis (Actor)

BET Awards '07 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

ER 2006 - 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Even Money 2007 (Movie)

Clyde Snow (Actor)

Idol Gives Back 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The 2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Debaters 2007 (Movie)

James Farmer, Sr. (Actor)

The Marsh 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

American Gun 2006 (Movie)

Carter (Actor)

Everyone's Hero 2006 (Movie)

Voice of Lonnie Brewster (Actor)

Inside the Actors Studio 2006 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

The Last King of Scotland 2006 (Movie)

Idi Amin (Actor)

A Little Trip to Heaven 2005 (Movie)

Holt (Actor)

Before the Music Dies 2005 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Jiminy Glick in Lalawood 2005 (Movie)

Himself (cameo) (Actor)

2004 IFP/Independent Spirit Awards 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

First Daughter 2004 (Movie)

Narrator (Actor)

The 35th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

American Storytellers 2003 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Phone Booth 2003 (Movie)

Captain Ramey (Actor)

The Twilight Zone 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Green Dragon 2002 (Movie)

Addie (Actor)

Panic Room 2002 (Movie)

Burnham (Actor)

The Fourth Angel 2001 (Movie)

Agent Jules Bernard (Actor)

Battlefield Earth 2000 (Movie)

Ker (Actor)

Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai 2000 (Movie)

Ghost Dog (Actor)

Four Dogs Playing Poker 1999 (Movie)

Ellington (Actor)

Light It Up 1999 (Movie)

Officer Dante Jackson (Actor)

ABC in Concert 1990 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Rebound: The Legend of Earl 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Phenomenon 1996 (Movie)

Nate Pope (Actor)

Smoke 1995 (Movie)

Cyrus Cole (Actor)

Species 1995 (Movie)

Dan (Actor)

Blown Away 1994 (Movie)

Anthony Franklin (Actor)

Body Snatchers 1994 (Movie)

Doctor Collins (Actor)

Jason's Lyric 1994 (Movie)

Maddog (Actor)

Prêt-à-Porter 1994 (Movie)

Cy Bianco--Fashion Designer (Actor)

The Enemy Within 1994 (Movie)

Colonel MacKenzie "Mac" Casey (Actor)

Bank Robber 1993 (Movie)

Officer Battle (Actor)

Clint Eastwood -- The Man From Malpaso 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Article 99 1992 (Movie)

Dr Sid Handleman (Actor)

Consenting Adults 1992 (Movie)

David Duttonville (Actor)

Diary of a Hitman 1992 (Movie)

Dekker (Actor)

The Crying Game 1992 (Movie)

Jody (Actor)

A Rage in Harlem 1991 (Movie)

Jackson (Actor)

Downtown 1990 (Movie)

Dennis Curren (Actor)

Johnny Handsome 1989 (Movie)

Dr Steven Resher (Actor)

The 21st Annual NAACP Image Awards 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Bird 1988 (Movie)

Charlie "Bird" Parker (Actor)

Bloodsport 1988 (Movie)

Rawlins (Actor)

Good Morning, Vietnam 1987 (Movie)

Edward Garlick (Actor)

Stakeout 1987 (Movie)

Jack Pismo (Actor)

Platoon 1986 (Movie)

Big Harold (Actor)

The Color of Money 1986 (Movie)

Amos (Actor)

Vision Quest 1985 (Movie)

Bulldozer (Actor)

Fast Times At Ridgemont High 1982 (Movie)

Charles Jefferson (Actor)

Body Count (TV Show)

Actor

Criminal Justice (TV Show)

Actor

Deacons For Defense (TV Show)

Actor

Hands of a Stranger (TV Show)

Actor

Last Light (TV Show)

Actor

Lush Life (TV Show)

Actor

North and South (TV Show)

Actor

North and South: Book II (TV Show)

Actor

The Feast of All Saints (TV Show)

Actor

What a Wonderful World (Movie)

Louis Armstrong (Actor)

Witness Protection (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (17)

Dope 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Songs My Brothers Taught Me 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Two Men In Town 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Repentance 2014 (Movie)

(Producer)

Fruitvale Station 2013 (Movie)

(Producer)

Rising From Ashes 2013 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Brick City 2009 - 2011 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Monte Carlo 2011 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Kassim the Dream 2009 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Powder Blue 2008 (Movie)

(Producer)

Ripple Effect 2008 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

American Gun 2006 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

First Daughter 2004 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Chasing Papi 2003 (Movie)

(Producer)

Green Dragon 2002 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

A Rage in Harlem 1991 (Movie)

(Co-Producer)

Door to Door (TV Show)

Co-Executive Producer
Music (6)

Black Nativity 2013 (Movie)

("Can't Stop Praising His Name") (Song Performer)

The Last King of Scotland 2006 (Movie)

("The Last Scottish Rite 1-4") (Song Performer)

The Last King of Scotland 2006 (Movie)

("Kay's Lament") (Song)

First Daughter 2004 (Movie)

("Thought I'd Seen It All") (Song)

First Daughter 2004 (Movie)

Soundtrack Executive Producer (Music Producer)

Hope Floats 1998 (Movie)

executive soundtrack producer (Music Producer)
Director (6)

The First Amendment Project 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Director

First Daughter 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

Hope Floats 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

Waiting to Exhale 1995 (Movie)

(Director)

Strapped (TV Show)

Director

What a Wonderful World (Movie)

(Director)

Biography

Though actor Forest Whitaker started college on an athletic scholarship, the charismatic and award-winning performer made the unlikely shift from football to studying to become a classical tenor and eventually, an actor. After gaining some attention in several stage musicals, Whitaker made an immediate impression with a small, but memorable role in his feature debut, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982). Following a quick succession of supporting roles in features and on television, he earned his first wave of critical accolades for his portrayal of drug-addicted jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker in "Bird" (1988). Once he was established as a viable leading man, Whitaker easily oscillated between low-budget and studio projects, earning equal acclaim for his performances. Taking his career to the next level, he made several earnest, but ultimately mediocre forays into feature directing - most notably "Waiting to Exhale" (1995) - but continued to churn out one sterling performance after another until finally reaching new heights with his Oscar-winning portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland" (2006), which came hot on the heels of another mesmerizing performance as an obsessive internal affairs officer on season five of "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08). Both roles only confirmed what many had already known - that Whitaker was one of Hollywood's most versatile, surprising and talented actors of his day.

Relationships

Autumn

Step-Daughter
Born 1991 to Keisha Nash; was flower girl at the Whitaker-Nash wedding

Raye Dowell Actor

Companion
No longer together

Forest Whitaker

Father

Sonnet Noel Whitaker Actor

Daughter
Born Oct. 3, 1996; mother, Keisha Nash Whitaker

Keisha Whitaker Actor

Wife
Met during filming of "Blown Away" (1993), in which she played his girlfriend Married May 4, 1996 in Jamaica

Damon Whitaker Actor

Brother
Born Oct. 21, 1970 Played young Charlie 'Bird' Parker in "Bird" (1988); brother played him as adult

Laura Whitaker

Mother
Put herself through college and earned two Masters degrees while raising her children

Kenn Whitaker Actor

Brother
Born June 8, 1963

True Whitaker

Daughter
Born July 2, 1998; mother, Keisha Nash Whitaker

Ocean Whitaker

Son
Born 1990 from a previous relationship; was ring bearer at father's wedding to Keisha Nash

Deborah Whitaker

Sister
Older

EDUCATION

University of Southern California

Los Angeles , California
Attended USC's Music Conservatory; received a Levar Burton Scholarship for drama

Drama Studio London

Berkeley , California
Attended the Berkeley Branch; received Sir John Gielgud Scholarship

California Polytechnic Institute

Pomona , California
Attended on full sports scholarship

Palisades High School

Los Angeles , California
All-league defensive tackle on the football team

Milestones

2013

Led the large cast of "The Butler"

2013

Cast opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in action feature "The Last Stand"

2013

Co-starred in action thriller "A Dark Truth"

2010

Co-starred with Jude Law in futuristic thriller "Repo Men"

2009

Voiced Ira in Spike Jonze's live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's book "Where the Wild Things Are"

2009

Executive produced Sundance Channel docu-series "Brick City"

2008

Co-stared with Denzel Washington (who also directed) in "The Great Debaters"

2006

Offered Oscar-winning performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland"

2006

Played a principal of a violent inner-city school in Aric Avelino's film debut "American Gun"; earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Male Lead

2006

Guest starred on five episodes of NBC medical drama "ER" as a carpenter who ends up being paralyzed by a stroke after being admitted for a cough; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

2005

Joined the cast of FX's "The Shield" for the fifth season, playing a cop from internal affairs

2004

Directed (also produced) Katie Holmes in "First Daughter"

2003

Appeared in the Showtime movie "Deacons for Defense"; received a SAG nomination for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

2003

Cast as senior officer Captain Ramey in the suspense thriller "Phone Booth"

2002

Played one of a trio terrorizing a woman and her child while looking for missing money in "Panic Room"

2002

Hosted classic mystery series "The Twilight Zone" (UPN)

2001

Featured in Sundance-screened "The Green Dragon"

2001

Starred opposite Jeremy Irons in the thriller "The Fourth Angel"

2000

Portrayed Ker in "Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000," based on novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

1999

Starred as the titular character of Jim Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"

1999

Played a Federal Marshall in HBO's "Witness Protection"

1998

Signed development deal with Columbia-TriStar

1998

Helmed second film "Hope Floats," starring Sandra Bullock

1995

Feature film directorial debut, "Waiting to Exhale"; co-starred Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston

1994

Returned to the world of jazz as trumpeter Buddy Chester, a top sideman who discovers he has a malignant brain tumor, testing his friendship with Jeff Goldblum and Kathy Baker in Showtime's "Lush Life"

1993

TV-movie directing debut, HBO urban drama "Strapped"; earned director's award for best first feature at Toronto Film Festival; Kiefer Sutherland acted in film and Whitaker repaid the favor by appearing that year in Sutherland's directorial debut "Last Lig

1992

Played British soldier kidnapped by IRA terrorists in Neil Jordan's "The Crying Game"

1991

Feature producing debut (also acted), "A Rage in Harlem"; directed by Bill Duke

1988

Landed first starring feature role as jazz legend Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's "Bird"

1988

Directed music video for Cheryl Pepsii Riley ("Thanks For My Child"); also for rappers Low Key, Soula, and M.C. Supreme for Warner Bros. Records

1987

Cast in high-profile supporting role in "Good Morning, Vietnam" opposite Robin Williams

1986

Reprised role of Cuffey in "North and South: Book II" (ABC)

1986

Directed first major stage production "Dreams Across the Realm"

1986

Acted in Martin Scorsese's "The Color of Money" and Oliver Stone's "Platoon"

1985

Made TV miniseries debut as Cuffey in "North and South" (ABC)

1983

Appeared on various TV series including " Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC), "Hill Street Blues" (NBC, directed by Bill Duke), "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS), and "Amazing Stories" (NBC)

1982

Made film acting debut as a high school football player in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

Formed multimedia company Spirit Dance Entertainment

Performed in Los Angeles productions after college, including "School Talk" (Mark Taper Forum) and "The Greeks" (Drama Studio London); also acted in "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "Beggar's Opera" (both at California Youth Theater)

Moved with family to Los Angeles, CA at young age

Bonus Trivia

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"As a black man, Mr. Whitaker is especially pleased that some of his parts, including the ones in 'Good Morning, Vietnam' and 'The Color of Money' and one in Walter Hill's 'Johnny Handsome,' were at first written for white characters. 'I've been more fortunate than a lot of black actors,' said Mr. Whitaker." – from "Switching To a New Camera Angle" by Bernard Weinraub in The New York Times, Aug. 17, 1993

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On filming "Strapped" in Brooklyn's Fort Greene district and using community residents in the film: "[Danger] was a big concern of the production team. But it was always my contention that we couldn't ignore the people that were there and move away to shoot the film: That's a big part of the problem, not looking at the situation and dealing with it. Once we were there, we had a blast." – Whitaker to Stephen Schaefer in USA Today, Aug. 19, 1993

.

"Directing is more comfortable for me, because as an actor there's always something inherently false. Because I'm not that person. I can spend a week in jail, but I'm still leaving. I once talked to a shaman who said, 'What makes you think these characters you play aren't real? I think you should examine that.' But it has always been my great frustration as an actor that I can't go deep into the thoughts, feelings and history of the character. As a director, I feel like it's real. I get caught up in the emotions and the story. I like being a storyteller." – Whitaker to Movieline, December 1996

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"Both 'Exhale' and 'Hope Floats' are about people overcoming problems, trying to regain belief in themselves. These are themes I'll always address, whether in a male or female-driven film." – Whitaker to Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1998

.

"If you enslave people, beat and rape them, separate them from their families, force them to fight against each other – if you create that kind of abuse, of course it's going to be passed down generationally. Since it was only about thirty years ago when we couldn't ride in the front of the bus, there must be some acknowledgment of the past to feel good about yourself now. So to have an African-American film that's yours and is doing well and everybody loves it, that's not only a source of pride but a source of healing. When at a certain point, the healing has actually occurred, you can accept broader themes. Even though Jewish people are doing really well they continually, through their art, remind themselves of their past and recognize themselves as a cultural group. I feel if you have an acceptance of others you'll find the similarities between you and them are immense. The Judaic tradition and the Egyptian or Arabic traditions are almost the same." – Whitaker to Interview magazine, June 1998

.

About why he named his daughter True and son Ocean: "I want those names to be their destiny, for my daughter to be honest and my son to be expansive. I try to be like a forest, revitalizing and constantly growing." Forest knows an odd name can be hard for a child: "Kids would tease me, calling me 'Little Bush.' But, I thought being called Forest helped me find my identity." – Whitaker to Webster Hall curator Baird Jones, quoted in the New York Post, Dec. 11, 1999

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On Nov. 3, 2001, Whitaker was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence.

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Whitaker devotes most of his reading to "ancient texts" and philosophy books. He believes one's name is one's destiny: "I try to be like a forest, revitalizing and constantly growing." – from Biography, September 2002

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Whitaker worked closely with a number of charitable organizations. He served as an Honorary Board Member for Penny Lane, an organization that provides assistance to abused teenagers. He was also involved with 4-D All Stars, a motivational mentor program for teenagers as well as The Watts Cinema Project.

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In 2009, Whitaker was selected by President Obama as a member of the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities.

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