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March 2010
OUR FAMILY WEDDING | An Interview with Forest Whitaker

An Interview with Forest Whitaker

By Kara Warner

March 8, 2010


With so many dramatic films to his credit, including an Academy Award for his role as Idi Amin in ‘The Last King of Scotland,’ it’s rare to see Forest Whitaker in a lighthearted film, let alone a comedy.

For his next film, ‘Our Family Wedding,’ Whitaker stars along with America Ferrara, Regina King, Lance Gross, and Carlos Mencia.

Described as a clash-of-cultures comedy, the story centers on two overbearing fathers (Whitaker, Mencia) who must put aside their differences to plan the wedding of their son and daughter (Ferrera) in less than two weeks.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Whitaker talks about his role in the film, doing comedy for a change, and having fun on the set.

It looked like you had a lot of fun with this. After so many serious roles, was that the reason you wanted to show a silly side?

Forest Whitaker: I think part of it was because I was just tired, physically and mentally. But when I read the script I thought the character was interesting. I like the story and for me it was another challenge to sort of be, just flow. It was fun.

How old are your kids now?

FW: My son is 20, my daughter is 18. I have a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old.


So they're not quite at the getting married age yet, but would you be a dad-zilla?

FW: They're about to go off to college. My son moved down to the Univ. of North Carolina last week. My daughter, I think she's going to go to school...

You're more laid back than your character, who seems controlling and meddling?

FW: I am more laid back. I don't know, Brad Boyd is kind of laid back though. "Son, you decide, you'll make the right decision." I think he's, you see him having this confidence with Carlos, his character. And then I think the issue of letting go and moving on with his own life, because he'd got issues, mostly from his wife leaving him and stuff.

  Carlos (Mencia) mentioned that you always made everyone feel comfortable, despite having a possibly intimidating presence with your Oscar and all?

FW: I think I just try to work with people. I wanted to work with him, we have to work together... sometimes I come across people who are uncomfortable so I try to make them comfortable but it's the same as if I were in a regular room with someone who feels uncomfortable. It's just me.

How did you fit in that Smart Car?

FW: The Smart Car is big, I feel bad for the Smart Car company because I was trying to make it look like The Incredibles with the seat moved all the way up. I had driven one before, a little convertible, Holly Robinson had an auction and I was trying to get it because I drove it and had plenty of room.

Did you have a great time on this film? Because you look like you had a great time...

FW: I did have a great time. I liked everybody. They were all cool to work with. It's really freeing to work on a character like this. It's just unusual when you're doing a movie about caring and loving that also has a social message about community and cultures, and being able to look past stereotypes. That's a nice message inside a movie. That was probably the big attraction for me.

When you take on a comedic role vs. a serious, is there a different approach for you as an actor?

FW: It's different. I try to look for the truth in the character because I'm always looking for the truth, trying to create the characters that exist in that space. But Brad is not weighted down with some of the technical things and emotional things I had to learn. For Idi Amin I had to learn a musical instrument, a language, I have to learn an accent, I had to learn to be African, I have to learn the politics, the period, the way they move, it's so many things. Whereas Brad is, he's just a hip DJ.

  Have you ever DJ'd?

FW: No, I never have. I've been asked to guest DJ from time to time.

What do you want people to take from this movie?

FW: No matter what obstacles there are, you can get to find happiness and love. That's the same message in the cultural thing that we can overcome, we're all family in a way.

Did they do the Electric Slide at your wedding?

FW: They did do the Electric Slide. We were trying to figure out the African-American traditions and it was tough. The Latino culture brought over all these things with them, whereas our culture was cut with slavery. The jumping the broom, that stayed, that's significant in African culture, but otherwise we were forced as a culture to not be able to do those things, not follow our religious beliefs, so we lost it in that process. Rights of passage we don't have, Bar Mitzvahs and the different things people do, we have many rites of passage in the African culture, from many different groups. Of course we're from all different groups and tribes as well, the cultures are all different and for marriage it's not there so we turn to the Electric Slide.

‘Our Family Wedding’ opens on March 12, 2010

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