New York: “I had moments where the directors were open enough to let me do that, yeah,” he told Newsweek. “In Good Morning, Vietnam,’ my character was written as a nerdy Jewish guy. In The Color of Money, the character was originally a Yuppie.”

Whitaker received a Golden Globe for best actor in a drama for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. He also is considered a favorite for an acting Oscar.

But there was a time when his family had doubts about his choice of careers. “I wasn’t making much money, and sometimes really struggling, but I was, like, No, Ma. This is what I want to do. Those were difficult conversations because I had my own doubts,” he said.

“It took me a long time to feel comfortable thinking, ‘I’m an actor. I can do this,’” he said.