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Forest Whitaker found prospect of playing Desmond Tutu intimidating.

By: stagedoorscribbler - January 21, 2019

Forest Whitaker

As the film The Forgiven, a semi-fictionalised account of the work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, opens in Europe, its star Forest Whitaker has admitted  was terrified at the prospect of playing peace and social justice campaigner Desmond Tutu.

More frightened in fact than he had been preparing for his Oscar-winning role as the ruthless African dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

The reason? He was desperate that the Nobel Peace Prize winning Archbishop Tutu approved of his portrayal. 

The obvious problem was physicality. Whitaker is a towering six foot Texan. Not the obvious choice perhaps to play the diminutive South African cleric. Then there was his voice. So different in tone from Tutu’s distinctive and excitable giggle.

“I was very intimidated, really afraid,”Whitaker said in an interview with AFP. 

He says even thought twice about accepting the challenge but eventually decided that he would concentrate on capturing the spirit and soul of this extraordinary man who has been so important to South Africa and the world.

The 57-year-old actor, who  since playing Amin back in 2006 has dedicated much of his life to charity and conflict resolution work, need not have been worried. Desmond Tutu absolutely loved the film.