Happy Birthday, Forest!

Kicking off his career with supporting roles in high-profile films such as Platoon, The Color of Money and The Crying Game, Whitaker has become an ace at whatever he turns his hand to, including directing and producing.

But his big Hollywood moment came in 2006 when travelled to Uganda to play the country’s former dictator Idi Amin in the compelling drama The Last King Of Scotland. And the hard work paid off – Whitaker swept the board during the 2007 awards season, winning Best Actor trophies at the Oscars, Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

To celebrate his 50th birthday, WENN has come up with 10 fascinating facts about the fabulous Forest Whitaker.

– After piling on the weight to play Amin, he adopted a vegetarian diet to shift those extra pounds.

– He turned down the role of Sawyer in hit TV show Lost, with the part eventually going to Josh Holloway.

– He made his directorial debut with Whitney Houston’s Waiting To Exhale in 1995.

– Forest has a black belt in Kenpo Karate.

– His father and grandfather are also called Forest.

– He refuses to have surgery to correct ptosis in his left eye, which causes drooping of the lid.

– He appeared in rapper T.I.’s video for Live in the Sky in 2006, and also directed Whitney Houston’s Exhale (Shoop Shoop) promo.

– Forest was made a chief of the Nigerian Igbo tribe in 2009 after discovering his roots lay in the ancient town of Nkwere, where the tribe lives.

– Despite critical acclaim, he’s had his share of flops – including playing a giant alien in Battlefield Earth, which critics hailed as the “worst film ever made”.

– Forest studied opera at the University of Southern California.