Live! with Kelly & Michael: Forest Whitaker Athletics Vs Arts
In high school, Forest Whitaker was a football player and opera singer. He said on Live with Kelly and Michael that when his football career fell through, he started doing music in Europe. He has since left the light opera career behind him, but has a musical movie with Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson coming out later this year.
Whitaker’s first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, gave him an excuse to use his football. The acting was much better than the athletics. Whitaker recently was honored by the French government for enriching the arts. He said it was great to be honored for working with something he cares so much about.
The Butler: Inspired by the Life of Eugene Allen, White House Head Butler
Inspired by a true story, Lee Daniels’ The Butler was Whitaker’s most challenging roles. He had to be invisible as the Butler, but still show the emotions and bring across the struggles that his character went through during the Civil Rights Movement.
Cecil Gaines’ son was big in the Civil Rights movement and they often butted heads. His wife, played by Oprah, worked constantly to build their relationship. Oprah would give him back rubs and they would hold hands around set. Whitaker said it was also great to work on the relationship with David Oyelowo, who played his son.
In the film, Cecil Gaines works in the White House for eight presidents. His real life inspiration, Eugene Allen, worked with the Obama campaign. He and his wife campaigned together until her death the night before the Presidential vote. Allen passed in 2010.
Whitaker said on Kelly & Michael that he also learned a lot about acting from doing this role. He played the character from his young years to his 90s. He had lessons in walking and carrying himself like an older person. You can basically see the Oscars lined up for Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
The Butler hits theaters August 16 2013.