Forest Whitaker’s New Home: ‘Criminal Minds’ Spinoff on CBS

Forest Whitaker in 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' (Photo: CBS)

Forest Whitaker in 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' (Photo: CBS)

Why does a top-tier film actor -– an Oscar winner, to boot -– decide to take up work on a TV series? For Forest Whitaker, who’s now starring in a new “Criminal Minds” spinoff on CBS, it’s all about stability -– and staying home.

“I think this show is one way for me to be able to not be a gypsy and be home more,” Whitaker told Chris Wragge earlier this week on “The Early Show” on CBS. Whitaker, 49, is married with four children. Home base is Los Angeles, where his new show, “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” is produced.

Whitaker won his Oscar in 2007 for playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.” His first movie was “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982. His other films include “The Color of Money” and “The Crying Game,” but we’re partial to “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999), in which Whitaker played a hit man steeped in eastern philosophy.

Watch David Letterman Breakdown the Films of Forest Whitaker on “The Late Show”

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In his new show –- which takes up residence on the CBS schedule Wednesday night at 10/9c -– Whitaker plays Sam Cooper, head of a BAU (Behavorial Analysis Unit) not unlike the one in the original “Criminal Minds” series -– FBI investigators who apply psychological profiling techniques to identifying perps and predicting their behavior in the hopes of catching them. Cooper also has an eastern, or Asian, way of looking at things. When his supervisor (played by guest-star Richard Schiff) asks him why he dabbles in the martial arts, Cooper answers that it’s his way of “keeping mind, body and spirit in balance” -– a very “Ghost Dog”-like response. Takes You Inside “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”

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On this week’s series premiere of “Suspect Behavior,” Cooper and his team -– which includes Janeane Garofalo in a very non-comedic role -– are on the trail of two missing Cleveland girls probably kidnapped by the same guy and, if the profilers are correct, are likely at risk for getting killed.

Will the team find the girls in time? Naturally, we don’t want to reveal what happens (though we happen to have a DVD of the show and have already watched it), but for those viewers familiar with the Way of the CBS Procedural, you can at least expect a high level of proficiency on the part of these FBI special agents as they go about their business of running down this suspect.

We’re always amazed at the speed with which investigators on CBS cop dramas work, particularly their skill at piecing together various data from law-enforcement computer files and, presumably, the Internet. For this purpose, “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” has agent Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), the unit’s resident geek (identified chiefly by her nerdy “vintage” eyewear) who can find out anything, anytime about anybody with just a few taps on her keyboard. That comes in handy, of course, when you have only about 44 minutes to close a case.

Whitaker was last seen on TV in the fifth and sixth seasons of “The Shield” on FX starting in 2006, as an LAPD Internal Affairs investigator who targeted the corrupt cops led by Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis). We welcome him back.

“Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” premieres Wednesday (Feb. 16) at 10 p.m./9c on CBS.

Watch a Sneak Peek of “Suspect Behavior”

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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