Forest Whitaker: Sacked by Jefferson
Forest Whitaker, once upon a time known as the football star "Charles Jefferson" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, turned 45 years old this weekend. (Just about all my favorite scenes from Fast Times revolve around his character: Jefferson asking Damone about tickets to Earth, Wind & Fire, Spicoli wrecking his car, and the infamous football massacre that follows).
Whitaker's career in the 80s included parts in Vision Quest ("Balldozer"), The Color of Money ("Amos"), Platoon ("Big Harold"), Good Morning Vietnam ("Pfc. Garlick") and the title role in Bird. He scored TV appearances in the North and South miniseries, Diff'rent Strokes, The Fall Guy, Hill Street Blues and more.
Hard to forget his non-80s role, though, as Jody in The Crying Game. ("As they both sink beneath the waves, the frog cries out, "Why did you sting me, Mr. Scorpion? For now we both will drown!" Scorpion replies, "I can't help it. It's in my nature!")
Perhaps underrated outside critical circles, Whitaker has enjoyed an impressive career. Two of his better roles were only on HBO -- playing Rucker in Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault in 1996 and Army-colonel-turned-whistleblower in The Enemy Within in 1994.
I'll go as far to say he's not made any truly awful movies -- until Battlefield Earth in 2000. Nowadays, Whitaker continues to earn much-too-quiet praise for his work on TV's The Shield.