Forest Whitaker lightens up in 'Our Family Wedding' 

Forest Whitaker earned an Oscar for his striking portrayal of brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”

Since then, the 49-year-old actor has continued to garner critical acclaim for his work in other dramatic movies such as “The Great Debaters” and “Street Kings.”

In contrast, Whitaker said it was director Rick Famuyiwa’s new romantic comedy, “Our Family Wedding,” opening Friday, that really allowed him to “loosen up and just have some fun.”

“I really was kind of burned out and tired from doing all the serious stuff,” says Whitaker, who was recently in town to promote the film with co-stars Regina King (TNT’s “Southland”), America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), Lance Gross (“Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”) and comedian Carlos Mencia.

“I liked all the characters and I really liked the story,” says Whitaker, who plays a controlling father that initially can’t accept that his son, Marcus (Gross), is marrying a Hispanic woman (Ferrera).

“It’s really freeing to work on a character like this,” he says. “It’s unusual when you do a movie about caring and loving and all sorts of social messages about community and cultures and look past stereotypes. You come to a sense of understanding that we’re all the same. That’s a nice message. Plus, I just had a good time making the movie.”

The Oscar winner says the big award certainly boosted his career. Up next, he’ll star with Jude Law in “Repo Men,” opening April 2.

And, he’s producing the documentary “Single Shot” about inmates in an Angola prison.

Also upcoming is “Satchmo,” a biopic on legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, in which he’ll act and direct.

“I won’t play the whole,” Whitaker says. “The movie starts when Satchmo is born. A couple of people will be performing the character.”

He also loves television. He’s been on “The Shield” and “ER,” and is a huge fan of CBS’s drama “Criminal Minds.” He’s been tapped to star in a spin-off of it this spring.

“We’ve just started shooting for the show in L.A, and I’m heading to San Francisco to do some filming there for it, too. I really like moving between TV and film. TV is just interesting to explore. I don’t see boundaries the way other people do. I just like to create and have some fun.”

Our Family Wedding

Starring Forest Whitaker, America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Regina King, Lance Gross, Anjelah Johnson, Diane-Maria Riva, Lupe Ontiveros
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa
Rated PG-13
Running time 1 hour 41 minutes

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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