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Good Cop

Forest Whitaker on the role that might get him an Emmy: He chats with Michelle Kung about ''The Shield,'' plus playing around on the set of ''Where the Wild Things Are''

As The Shield's Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh, the underhanded Internal Affairs investigator brought on to take down Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his corrupt LAPD strike team, Forest Whitaker has been lying and raging his way into the hearts of viewers and critics alike. The multi-hyphenate (actor/director/producer) recently spoke to EW about returning to the show next season, stepping back into the director's chair, and having a Styrofoam-tree fight with Spike Jonze.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Are you nervous or psyched about the Emmy buzz surrounding your work on The Shield?
FOREST WHITAKER: Kavanaugh is a great and unique character to play; the way the writers drew him, he's got a lot of edge and is extremely unpredictable. He's just so driven, you know? And The Shield was a safe environment to act in, because I was just trying to trust my instincts and dive into the material.

And you're returning for the next season, right?
Yes. There's always the possibility of my character coming back...although I'm not supposed to explain what happens to him. But obviously, since [Vic's] team continues to go on, and my character was brought there to destroy his team, he clearly doesn't accomplish his goal.

You've also just finished work on Spike Jonze's half-puppet, half-computer-animated adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are.
Yeah. It's a pretty good cast. The first time we [Benicio Del Toro, Michelle Williams, and the other Wild Things voice actors] got together as a group, we went up in the hills into this big Styrofoam world with all these big Styrofoam trees that we're hitting each other with. We were diving on top of each other and rolling around on the ground and grunting and playing and ducking. It was pretty unusual. The movie is about people and their fears and their hopes, so that's what we were trying to emphasize while we were having a lot of fun.

What else do you currently have on your plate?
My next movie, The Last King of Scotland, is coming out in the fall, and it's pretty intense. It's about this kid [James McAvoy] who goes off to have fun and explore the world, and then meets this guy who just happens to be [Ugandan dictator] Idi Amin, and they form this really weird friendship that keeps growing and growing until it becomes corrupted by power. I'm also going to voice another animated-type film called Everyone's Hero — they wanted to re-voice a character and asked me if I would come in.

You haven't directed a film since 2004's First Daughter. Any other plans to step behind the camera?
At the moment, I'm only developing stuff. One of my projects, which I'm developing with Fox Searchlight, is this piece about children soldiers, and that's what I'm hoping to direct next, although it probably won't be until the middle or the beginning of next year. I feel like I'm about to do more creative stuff and want to see where that leads.

Originally posted Jun 16, 2006