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Forest Whitaker (born July 15, 1961 in Longview, Texas, United States) is an acclaimed and instantly recognizable American actor, producer and director who has played various "gentle giant" characters who typically display innocence, indecision, and timidity along with a strong underlying humanity, he has certainly not shied away from the edgier, darker corners of life as his occasional hitmen and other menacing streetwise types can attest. Although in only the first section of the film, he was memorable as the IRA-captured British soldier whose bizarre relationship with a mysterious femme fatale serves as the catalyst for the critically-lauded drama The Crying Game (1992). Always a willing participant to push the envelope, he's gone on to enhance a number of lesser films. Among those was his plastic surgeon in Johnny Handsome (1989, with Morgan Freeman and Lance Henriksen), gay clothing designer in Robert Altman's Ready to Wear (1994), alien hunter in Species (1995), absentee father confronted by his estranged son in Smoke (1995), and as a Mafia hitman who models himself after the samurai warrior in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), among many others.
He is married to former model Keisha Whitaker and has three children by her. His younger brothers Kenn Whitaker and Damon Whitaker are both actors as well.
Whitaker has packaged a king-size talent into his hulking 6' 2", 220 lb. frame. He won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland. He has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Other film credits include: Fast Times at Ridgemore High, Platoon (with Tony Todd, Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger), Stakeout, Bloodsport, Clint Eastwood's Bird (again with Todd), Jason's Lyric (with Jada Pinkett Smith), Mr. Holland's Opus, Phenomenon (with John Travolta), Light It Up, The Fourth Angel (with Jeremy Irons), The Air I Breathe (with Kevin Bacon), Street Kings (with Keanu Reeves), Lee Daniel's The Butler (with Alan Rickman), Out of the Furnace (again with Dafoe and with Christian Bale), Black Nativity, Repetence and Tak3n (with Liam Neeson and Al Sapienza).
In recent years, he also stole the show as Lt. Jon Kavanaugh in the FX cable TV series "The Shield" (with Michael Chiklis). He also had recurring roles on "North and South", "ER" and "Family Guy". He briefly served as the lead star to headline the short-lived TV show spin-off "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior".