Forest Whitaker has revealed how riled up he would get during some of the scenes he filmed for 'The Butler', in which he plays a man serving eight consecutive presidents but with no pay rise for years.
While his son played by David Oyelowo participates in civil rights struggles in the South, Forest's Cecil Gaines prefers to prove his individuality by his impeccable servitude. How did this long-time activist for equal rights issues contain himself?
Forest Whitaker is at odds with his son, played by David Oyelowo, in 'The Butler'
"The scene where I go in to talk about the salaries, there's a deep sense of humiliation, loss and confusion that happens," he reveals.
"That's how I have to live it. At other times, I utilise that scene to fuel my emotions and my upset in another. So I bank all that anger, and then withdraw it when I need it."
Forest can remember being immersed in the civil rights struggles of his youth, the recent US history depicted in 'The Butler', in which he takes the title role.
"I remember being in school during the assassination, not really understanding, just knowing there was pain, with teachers crying," he tells me in a very soft voice, during his recent whistle-stop trip to London.
Forest Whitaker with Lenny Kravitz and Cuba Gooding Jr in 'The Butler'
"I remember the Panthers very well, I'd see at the corners of my street. And I'd go across town to get a bus to a different area, so I understood about bussing and things of that nature.
"Throughout our time, we've had a number of riots that have still occurred that were all part of this movement, even if it was Rodney King."
The Butler sees Whitaker take the role based on real-life Eugene Allen, who served seven consecutive presidents. Despite bagging his Oscar as Amin in 'The Last King of Scotland', this role for Forest is, by his own admission, "one of the most challenging roles I've ever played. The details were so specific. It affected every part of my life, although it was extraordinary and I felt fortunate. There felt something transient about this role, this film. I did feel a little tear in the universe for this one."
Forest Whitaker with Oprah Winfrey in 'The Butler'
Oprah Winfrey plays Cecil's neglected wife Gloria, who succumbs to the temptations of alcohol and neighbourly attention while her husband is tending to his executive charges.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film shows Gloria asking her husband about Jackie Kennedy's shoes - about which he'll say nothing - attempting to seduce him, and then flinging her lipstick at the mirror in frustration. Forest has nothing but admiration for his global brand of a co-star...
"She was so committed to her work, and fearless in so many ways," he says.
"Because she was so fearless, the audience can pass by that she's such an immense figure in the world. We loved working together."
'The Butler' is in UK cinemas now. Watch the trailer below...
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