Forest Whitaker talks playing unhinged in ‘Repentance’

Forest Whitaker stars in "Repentance." Credit: Getty Images
Forest Whitaker stars in “Repentance.”
Credit: Getty Images

 

In “Repentance,”  Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker plays a tormented, mentally unhinged man who goes off his meds and follows the instructions of a psychic and the specter of his dead mother to track down the man responsible for her death. As if that wasn’t a tall enough order, the Oscar winner was also being directed by Philippe Caland, who played the same role in an earlier, smaller version of the film. No pressure, right?

How was the experience of being directed by someone who previously played the same role you’re playing?
I thought it was one of his better performances, too. He was really good in it. I didn’t really think about it much, to be honest. [It was more about the effort] to create the structure around it and to be there for him as a friend and as an artist and as a producer in what’s really a much more constrained environment, much different than the films he’s done in the past — and actually a larger budget than the films he’s done in the past.

How is it, as an actor, performing scenes opposite people who are all tied up?
It was wild doing that scene. Especially with Anthony [Mackie] too, because he went through a lot. Being tied up, being wrapped up, being suffocated, having water thrown all over him — it was a strange experience. I actually kind of surrendered to it, so I lived in it. I just kind of lived in the reality of the fact that I tied these people up, you know what I mean? I needed him to answer me, so I used violence. I tortured him.

How much do you worry about maintaining audience sympathy?
You start questioning yourself, right? I think you do care about him because his motivation is that he loves his mom, who he lost. His mom was taken away and it was wrong. And he really cares about his wife — you see how desperately he wants to be with her — and he’s taking care of this little girl. You can’t help but care about him, because those are human things, you know? But I think as it goes on you do have to ask the question: Is violence OK? And I think ultimately, no matter what his motivations were, the acts that he did are wrong. You could find sympathy, hopefully, with this man who is struggling with his own sanity, who lost his mom, wishes his wife would forgive him. But in the end that question comes to bear: Is violence OK? And I say, “No.”

Do you view this in any way as a supernatural film?
I do. I don’t necessarily believe that him seeing his mom is not true. I think certainly playing the character I had to believe it was true. Certainly as an actor it’s real. You know, you’d say, “Oh, this man is mad” any other time in his life other than now.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…