For­est joins the force

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - LYNN CAMERON Crim­i­nal Minds: Sus­pect Be­hav­iour, South­ern Cross, Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm

MAK­ING tran­si­tion from big screen to tele­vi­sion is a move many A-lis­ters have been hes­i­tant about but, for Oscar win­ner For­est Whi­taker, it was the case of right show, right time.

The 50-year-old ac­tor, star of movie block­busters Panic Room, Pla­toon, Phone Booth and The Last King of Scotland, is cur­rently star­ring in South­ern Cross’s Crim­i­nal Minds: Sus­pect Be­hav­iour, a spin-off to the orig­i­nal Crim­i­nal Minds se­ries.

For Whi­taker ( pic­tured), who has pre­vi­ously dipped his toes in tele­vi­sion wa­ters with re­cur­ring roles in ER and The Shield, the chance of play­ing a lead role in an es­tab­lished fran­chise was one he couldn’t turn down.

‘‘ It was the right mo­ment that they came to me,’’ Whi­taker says. ‘‘ It was the right time. I wanted to stay home for a while.

‘‘ Plus, I was in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing the hu­man mind and the hu­man psy­che. And I thought, ‘ if I was go­ing to do a show, can I be in­ter­ested for years and years?’ And this show is a way for me to be in­ter­ested for years and years.’’

For an ex­plo­ration in psy­chol­ogy, Whi­taker’s char­ac­ter, unit chief Spe­cial Agent Sam Cooper, is the per­fect fit.

A pri­vate, se­cre­tive per­son and a men­tally and phys­i­cally fierce nat­u­ral leader, much of Cooper’s past is un­known.

‘‘ Some bad things oc­curred and, as a re­sult, he went over­seas,’’ Whi­taker re­veals.

‘‘ He ended up work­ing in the war, af­ter which he dis­ap­peared. There’s a long pe­riod of lost years.’’ It’s a role Whi­taker clearly rel­ishes. ‘‘ I think I’ve al­ways been try­ing to un­der­stand peo­ple,’’ he says. ‘‘ I think I’ve been do­ing the kind of be­havioural analysing since I’ve been work­ing even as an artist, first as a kid.

‘‘ But ev­ery char­ac­ter I play, I’m try­ing to un­der­stand why they be­have this way, why they eat this way, why they walk this way, what they feel, what they think, what ex­pe­ri­ence, what clothes they wear, what shoes they wear, why they wear this kind of sock . . . I’ve been do­ing that for 30 years.’’

De­spite his con­fi­dence in his new role, how­ever, Whi­taker does ad­mit there is an el­e­ment of trep­i­da­tion among fel­low Hol­ly­wood ac­tors in align­ing their rep­u­ta­tion with tele­vi­sion, but he firmly dis­tances him­self from this view.

‘‘ I think there was a fear from [ other ac­tors] be­fore that it might do some­thing to their ca­reer, but I choose not to live in fear, and so I de­cided to do it. I tend to try to look at my­self as a sto­ry­teller: I want to tell sto­ries wher­ever I can tell sto­ries. I try not to see lim­its.’’

In keep­ing with the old adage that ‘‘ it takes a thief to catch a thief’’, Cooper’s elite team of pro­fil­ers in­cludes a for­mer Bri­tish Spe­cial Forces sol­dier-turned-sniper ( Matt Ryan), an ex-con­vict with a street-smart edge ( Michael Kelly) and a loud-mouthed, strong-willed FBI agent ( Emmy award-nom­i­nee Janeane Garo­falo).

Although clearly linked to the orig­i­nal se­ries, Whi­taker stresses that Crim­i­nal Minds: Sus­pect Be­hav­iour is ac­tu­ally far re­moved from its sis­ter show.

‘‘ First off, we’re a red-cell unit, so we only re­port di­rectly to the di­rec­tor of the FBI,’’ Whi­taker ex­plains. ‘‘ We’re a spe­cialised unit; we’re not at Quan­tico. We’re out­side of it in our own space.

‘‘ Also, some­times we op­er­ate out­side the rules a lit­tle bit more. We’re much more of a rogue type of unit; we’re more phys­i­cal.

‘‘ My guys are fight­ing all the time!’’

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