Forest Whitaker on how Sean Penn went method for Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Before they became Oscar-winning actors, Forest Whitaker and Sean Penn got their big breaks as bumbling high schoolers in the cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Whitaker, in the latest episode of PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing, says Penn never broke character as the perpetually stoned Jeff Spicoli. One day while shooting, Whitaker overheard his brother and former actor Kenn Whitaker concocting a scheme alongside Penn off camera that sounded a bit too much like something Spicoli would try.
“I’d be standing against the wall, and him and my brother would come,” Whitaker says in the clip. “They would be having this long dialogue about when they were gonna steal my bag or not.”
Though he doesn’t say if they got away from the ruse, Whitaker fondly remembers shooting one of his first films. He played footballer Charles Jefferson, a role not too far off the actor.
“I had been playing football, and then I had trimmed down just in my life. So when they were trying to give me the part, they kept saying, ‘You’re not heavy enough. You’re not heavy enough,’” he said. “So I was just eating, eating, eating, eating to get big enough to play a football player, which I really was a football player.”
Check out the entire interview with host Lola Ogunnaike above.