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Forest Steven Whitaker III (born July 15, 1961) is an American actor, director, and producer.

He has earned a reputation for intensive character study work for films such as Bird, Platoon, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Lee Daniels' The Butler, He is set to portray Saw Gerrera in the Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Whitaker won the Academy Award, British Academy Film Award, Golden Globe Award, National Board of Review Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and various critics groups awards for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland.

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Forest's mother, Laura Francis (née Smith), was a special education teacher who put herself through college and earned two master's degrees while raising her children.

on a football scholarship, but due to a debilitating back injury, he changed his major to music (voice).

He toured England with the Cal Poly Chamber Singers in 1980.

While still at Cal Poly, he briefly changed his major to drama.

Whitaker continued to work with a number of well-known directors throughout the 1990s.

He starred in the 1990 film Downtown with Anthony Edwards and Penelope Ann Miller.

Neil Jordan cast him in the pivotal role of "Jody", a captive British soldier in his 1992 film, The Crying Game where Whitaker used an English accent.

Todd Mc Carthy, of Variety, described Whitaker's performance as "big-hearted," "hugely emotional," and "simply terrific." In 1994, he was a member of the cast that won the first ever National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble for Robert Altman's film, Prêt-à-Porter.

He was accepted to the Music Conservatory at the University of Southern California to study opera as a tenor, and subsequently was accepted into the University's Drama Conservatory.

Whitaker has a long history of working with well-regarded film directors and fellow actors, as well as working in direct-to-video films alongside novice actors such as Lil Wayne, Maggie Grace and 50 Cent.

In his first onscreen performance of note, he had a supporting role playing a high school football player in the 1982 film version of Cameron Crowe's coming-of-age teen-retrospective, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.