Picks and Pans Review: Oscar Watch
Whitaker, 45, is getting big buzz for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who ordered the deaths of an estimated 300,000 of his countrymen during his eight-year reign (even eating a few of his victims, according to lore). And he's still haunted by the experience.
HOW DID YOU BECOME AMIN? I learned Swahili and studied film footage of him, listening to his speeches, watching him move. I met with his brothers and sisters, generals and diplomats that worked under him, people who raised him. That's all I did and thought for five months. I'd go to sleep and be dreaming like Idi Amin.
DID YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH HIM? I understand a lot of choices he would make. He's not a politician and feels cornered: Paranoia sets in, where you can't trust anybody and know people around you don't think you're smart. You could understand too, if you were put in that situation.
WAS IT TOUGH TO SHAKE OFF PLAYING A MONSTER? As soon as we wrapped, I thought I had lost the accent, but when I talked to people, I realized I hadn't. So I was pushing myself to just get him out of my system. I took showers, trying to get the guy to leave me. I needed to wash those darker passions away.