Forest Whitaker knew Panic Room would be a great movie, but only as long as David Fincher (Fight Club) directed the suspenser. "In his hands, I thought it would be really amazing," he tells TV Guide Online. "In somebody else's hands, it would feel more like a play because it all happens in a house."
The 40-year-old actor/director says he jumped at the chance to play Burnham, a conflicted security pro who breaks into Jodie Foster's home for cash. The duo then engage in a psychological face-off when she seals herself inside the very room where the stash is hidden!
Whitaker explains that Fincher's involvement elevated Panic Room from a conventional melodrama to a visually-arresting thriller "because he knows so much about the technical making of films. He's one of the most technically savvy filmmakers I've ever encountered in 20-something years."
Whitaker's next project is quite a switch from this one: A live-action version of Fat Albert! "I met with [creator] Bill [Cosby] years ago," he recalls. "We talked and I told him how much I liked the show. I got a call from him in L.A. and he said, 'I hear they really like your directing at Fox. I'd really like you to direct my film.'"Finding Fat Albert the '70s cartoon character who coined the phrase "Hey, hey, hey" proved to be more of a challenge than expected. "I was open to everybody," Whitaker says, "so we saw people thin and large. But the guy I found is Fat Albert. He's perfect. [Omar Benson Miller] has so much warmth and he is also so secure. That was one of the qualities that Fat Albert had he was very confident in who he was."