Best Actor Oscar For Forest Whitaker

Posted Monday February 26, 2007 3:35 PM GMT

Forest Whitaker won the Oscar for best actor Sunday for portraying former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the movie 'The Last King of Scotland.'

Whitaker, born in Longview, Texas in 1961 and raised in East Los Angeles, gained 50 pounds to play Amin and dazzled critics with his portrayal of the mercurial, brutal dictator, won the Oscar on his first-ever nomination.

The emotionally charged Whitaker took several long breaths, his Oscar statue in hand, before pronouncing himself "overwhelmed" by the award and pulling out a prepared speech.

"When I was a kid the only way I saw movies was from the backseat of my family's car at the drive-in," Whitaker said.

"It wasn't my reality to think I would be acting in movies, so receiving this honor tonight tells me it is possible," he said. "It is possible for a kid from East Texas, raised in South Central L.A. and Carson who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them and to have them happen."

Whitaker beat out Peter O'Toole, who was in the running this year for playing an aging actor who falls for a young woman in 'Venus.'

Also nominated were Leonardo DiCaprio for 'Blood Diamond,' Ryan Gosling as an inner-city school teacher with a drug habit in 'Half Nelson,' and Will Smith as a struggling salesman who ends up homeless with his son in 'The Pursuit of Happyness.'

Whitaker previously appeared in movies like Platoon (1986), Stakeout (1987) and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988 for his role as tortured jazz icon Charlie "Bird" Parker in Clint Eastwood's passion project Bird.

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