Whitaker portrays Idi Amin in new film

Sept. 17, 2006 at 11:34 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker says it wasn't easy shaking off his latest character, former Uganda dictator Idi Amin, at the end of the work day.

Whitaker's chilling portrayal of the charismatic, yet brutal leader in the 1970s-set film, "The Last King of Scotland," is generating Oscar buzz after screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

To prepare for the role, Whitaker thoroughly researched the country's language, history and culture, as well as Amin's blood-soaked legacy.

"I spent so much time while I was in Uganda trying to understand the customs, the eating, the mosques. I don't know if there was any place I didn't try to visit ... or people I didn't try to talk to," Whitaker told UPI in New York. "I slowly started to simulate it. It was like a food which became a part of my system, in my blood."

Whitaker said he tried just as hard to leave Amin behind when he wasn't working on the film.

"I tried to wash the character off; take a shower, scream it out, change my clothes, get rid of the guy. ... Then I went and started doing another role and that helped me push something else inside of my mind and my body."

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