Black-rimmed spectacles enhance the persona of an intelligent and classy actor who tries to further his connections by attending film festivals and travelling the world. Forest Whitaker, who is currently attending the seventh Muscat International Film Festival (MIFF) and played dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, will now play the role of a butler in his next film.
Of the contrast between the characters, Whitaker, who has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Awards, told Muscat Daily, “Before undertaking every role, I acquaint myself well with the people, culture, language and other specifications of the character I portray.
For The Last King of Scotland, I learned Swahili and learned about the history of the dictator Amin. For The Butler, we are doing a lot of research and the film will be ready to start production soon.
“The Butler is a film about Eugene Allen, a White House staffer for 34 years who served eight presidents since 1952. I play the butler and Oprah Winfrey plays my wife in the film. The story is loosely based on his life and also reveals a back door view of the politics of that time.”
Speaking about his next directorial venture, the actor said, “This is the first time I will be seen as an actor and director for the film Better Angels, which will be released in the fall of 2013. The story revolves around child soldiers in the north of Uganda and a conflict journalist who enters this camp.”
It seems the film will be a good challenge for the actor. His character, the journalist, will be seen carrying a camera and filming shots.
The actor, who has a passion to connect with human feelings and emotions, said, “Better Ange-ls will set new challenges for me yet again because I am trying to grasp and get an insight into the lives of child soldiers in Uganda. The film is expected to be screened at Cannes and will finally be released by 2013.”
As the 6ft-something Whitaker walked towards the Oman Auditorium, Al Bustan Palace, for a screening of The Last King of Scotland, he was surrounded by film buffs and journalists.
While for some it was about taking photographs, many wanted to crack the code behind his portrayal of a dictator, agent, bodyguard and an employer with finesse and conviction in various films.
As the film played on a giant screen, one got the feeling that another actor could not have portrayed the rise of Ugandan President Idi Amin and his torturous reign from 1971-79 as effectively as Whitaker.
Asked whether he was looking for inspiration from Oman, Whitaker said with a smile, “Why not? I will only consider a film if I find a good story, one that resonates well with me. This is the first time I have come to the Middle East and I am sure I will discover something new.”