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Star Wars actor Forest Whitaker says first Scottish visit is ‘a touch of magic’

Actor Forest Whitaker, who won an Oscar for The Last King Of Scotland, said his first visit north of the border is a “touch of magic”.

The star reflected on his role in the 2006 film, in which he played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and the “massive” impact it had on his career.

He was tight-lipped on his future appearances as Saw Gerrera in the Star Wars universe but said he would love to explore the character’s past.

Whitaker told the PA news agency: “I didn’t do anything with Idi Amin that was in Scotland.

“It was just a shot, I think at the beginning, where James (McAvoy) jumps into the river.

“So for me it’s exciting to be here, you know. It’s a touch of magic, I guess.”

Whitaker planned on visiting Edinburgh Castle and taking in the city’s “beautiful” buildings during his stay in the capital.

The 61-year-old picked up a £500,000 cheque for his charity, the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, from the People’s Postcode Lottery at its 13th annual gala.

He said Idi Amin’s fascination with Scottish traditions, such as kilts and bagpipes, was a “big part of him”.

He said: “When I received (the Oscar) I was overwhelmed and emotional.

“That wasn’t my goal initially. My goal was to try and capture this man.”

The actor spent weeks in Uganda researching the role, as well as learning Swahili.

Despite the atrocities that took place under the military leader’s rule, some considered him an anti-colonial hero.

Understanding Amin’s paranoia was key to his portrayal of the Ugandan leader, Whitaker said.

The same behaviours that made Amin effective on the battlefield were “inhumane” in normal life.

London Film Festival – The Last King of Scotland premiere
Whitaker was in Edinburgh to collect a cheque for his charity (Ian West/PA)

Whitaker said: “Once you understand all those things, all of a sudden the character’s not dark – he’s not all evil.

“He has his own fears and problems and you try to uncover them.

“It doesn’t mean that the deeds he did weren’t horrific because they were.”

Whitaker said the film was “massive” for him, adding: “Being acknowledged by your peers, it’s quite an extraordinary thing.”

In Disney’s Star Wars franchise, Whitaker has appeared five times in films, TV shows and video games as the revolutionary Saw Gerrera.

He said: “I really do like playing Saw Gerrera. I like Saw Gerrera a lot.

“He’s really trying to save the people.”

Anything examining Gerrera in the “younger period” would be “great”, Whitaker said.

He said he is planning on returning to a directorial role for a project called Better Angels next year.

The script looks at child soldiers, he added.