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Forest Whitaker shares wit, wisdom in discussing latest film

Kam Williams | 2/27/2014, 6 a.m.
Forest Whitaker is a distinguished artist and humanist, involved with a number of organizations for peace and also an award-winning ...

When did you realize that you could carry a film as the star?

I guess it would be around the time I made “Bird,” because, although I wasn’t all that confident about my performance, it was the first time I was allowed to be the focal point of a film.

When did you get your first big break as an actor?

My first big break? I think “The Color of Money” was very instrumental in opening up other opportunities. People started to recognize me as an artist after that film. And then, after I did Bird, it was more solidified.

Did playing the main character in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” make you more empathetic toward our ancestors?

Yeah. I think one of the great things Lee did was humanize his characters in a way that they could experience all these emotions as they walked through history. As a result, I came away with a deeper understanding, an in-dwelling, a knowing that I didn’t have before, as opposed to its just being an intellectual or emotional exercise.

Was making “The Butler” a “game changer” for you spiritually, emotionally or politically?

Working on the film, a transcendent space was created for me that I was able to carry to my next film. So, in that respect, it served as a catalyst for change in my work. Certainly, it was also a solidifier of an understanding of social justice in my life.

When do you feel the most content?

It varies. It’s a wave that comes over you. Sometimes, it comes from just sitting still quietly in the moment. Or it can be the feeling you get looking out a window at a tree while riding in the back a car. It’s not a permanent space. It’s a place that moves with me different places that I go in my life. It happens quite often. I feel it in my skin.

Is there something you wish people would note about you?

The desire to connect.