Forest Steven Whitaker (born July 15, 1961) is an American actor, producer, and director. He has earned a reputation for intensive character study work for films such as Bird and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and for his recurring role as ex-LAPD Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh on the gritty, award-winning television series, The Shield.
Whitaker won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker has also won a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA.
Whitaker was born in Longview, Texas, and his family moved to South Central Los Angeles when he was four. His father, Forest Whitaker, Jr., was an insurance salesman and the son of novelist Forest Whitaker, Sr. His mother, Laura Francis (née Smith), was a special education teacher who put herself through college and earned two Masters degrees while raising her children. Whitaker has two younger brothers, Kenn and Damon, and an older sister, Deborah.