Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker is an incredibly versatile actor, director, and producer. With a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Best Actor Oscar® to secure his place in history, Forest’s career is one of legend. With his latest film, Taken 3, about to hit theaters, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a few of his best films.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Forest Whitaker first caught filmgoers’ attention in the cult classic ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’ He played Charles Jefferson, the hulking football player remembered most for tearing up the field -- and the competition -- after his brother and stoner Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) accidentally wrecked his prized Camaro, then blamed it on the opposing team.
The Color of Money (1986)
Playing a young pool hustler in ‘The Color of Money,’ Whitaker not only stole the scene from screen legend Paul Newman, he also took all of Fast Eddie Felson’s money. Receiving critical praise for his performance, the actor soon found himself on the fast track to bigger and better roles.
As part of a star-studded cast that featured Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Johnny Depp, ‘Platoon’ was a darling at the Oscars®, taking home four statues including one for Best Picture. Following the story of a platoon of men stationed in Vietnam, the film shows the battles each man must face - the first being against the enemy, while the second is being fought within their own unit.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Returning to Vietnam for a second tour of acting duties, Forest starred opposite the late, great Robin Williams. The story follows an irreverent DJ and his attempts to bring humor to the lives of the men at the front. Capturing moments of Robin Williams at his improvisational best, this is the rare war film that will make you laugh your butt off.
Forest received a Golden Globe® nomination for playing legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker in the Clint Eastwood film ‘Bird.’ With a startling performance as the tormented jazz genius, ‘Bird’ proved the actor had what it took to carry a film, and immediately placed him among Hollywood’s A-list leading men.
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
Stepping behind the camera to direct his first feature film, Forest adapted a big-screen version of Terry McMillan’s novel ‘Waiting to Exhale.’ It tracks the story of a group of female friends and features an all-star cast, including Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. Besides being a hit with fans, the film’s musical soundtrack went on to win numerous awards.
Panic Room (2002)
Appearing alongside Jodie Foster, Dwight Yoakam, and Jared Leto, ‘Panic Room’ tells the tale of a mother and daughter who flee a home invasion by entering the safety of their new home’s panic room. What was once seen as a safe haven soon turns into a curse after it’s discovered that the thing the robbers came to collect is also in the room with them.
Phone Booth (2002)
After answering a ringing telephone in a New York City phone booth, Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is told that if he hangs up he’ll be killed. Whitaker plays Captain Ramey, who steps in and does his best to control the situation – which turns out not to be the easiest of tasks since he’s dealing with a mad man he can’t see. This is the kind of film that will make you thankful cell phones now exist.
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Whitaker won an Academy Award® for Best Actor playing Ugandan President Idi Amin in this drama about a young doctor from Scotland who befriends Uganda’s new President, who slowly transitions from ruler to ruthless dictator. The actor took home several top wards for his gutsy performance, and ‘The Last King of Scotland’ proved that Forest Whitaker had finally reached the top of his game.
The Great Debaters (2007)
At a time when segregation was the law of the land, one professor from an African-American college inspired his debate team to reach for the stars. With his coaching, the team of three men and one woman made history by becoming the first black college to ever face a white college on the debate floor. Challenged by racism, sexism, bigotry and inner turmoil, the film delivers a powerful message. Produced by Oprah Winfrey and starring Forest Whitaker and Denzel Washington (who also directed) this film is a wonderful example of what can happen when you believe in yourself.
Vantage Point (2008)
Told from the point of view of multiple onlookers, ‘Vantage Point’ analyzes the events that occurred during a Presidential assassination attempt in Spain. Playing an American tourist who videotaped the event, Whitaker approaches the authorities with footage he believes shows the shooter… but will it lead to answers or just more questions?
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Directed by Spike Jonze, this big-screen adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s imaginative childhood story is chock-full of the most fantastical creatures. Following the story of Max, a small boy who creates an imaginative world of his own after being sent to bed, this visual masterpiece features an array of big-name celebrities, including Forest Whitaker, who voices the part of the Ira.