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Forest Whitaker: 'Hoffman's Death Is Sad and Tragic'

( [email protected] ) Feb 06, 2014 11:17 AM EST

"We need to be more mindful of having other things to substitute in your life to make you feel whole," says Whitaker.

The Oscar-winning actor and director who is best known for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," was promoting his latest film "Repentance" when he was asked to share his thoughts on Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who died on Sunday of a drug overdose.

Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker - courtesy of AMPAS
Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin - courtesy of Fox Search Light

Widely considered as one of the best actors of the modern era, Hoffman, 46, received an Oscar for best performance for the film "Capote" in 2006 and although the two have never worked together, their paths had crossed several times.

"As an artist, as a person and a symbol of success, it makes me sad," said Whitaker, who received his Oscar a year later in 2007 and has also earned a reputation for his intensive character study work for films "Bird," and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai."

"It is a reminder to us that we have to care and we have to be mindful of what it is we can do in our own lives." 

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman - credit Armando Flores
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Hoffman at the 78th Academy Awards - courtesy of A.M.P.A.S

Whitaker 's latest film "Repentance" centers on a life coach (Anthony Mackie) who's mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, (Whitaker), struggling with mental-health issues and the death, years back, of his beloved mother. Whitaker also doubles as producer in the psychological thriller which mixes psychology and spiritualism.

"The movie is based on spiritual principles and originally it was called Vipaka, a term referring to the consequence of karma, so it's also about dealing with that and so the spirit realm is not ignored in the movie."

Directed by Philippe Caland, "Repentance" stars Mike Epps ("The Hangover"), Sanaa Lathan ("The Best Man Holiday") and Nicole Ari Parker ("Revolution").

"We have been able to identify some really great projects and will definitely be doing more films as the years progress. We are just trying to talk about the human experience and put those stories out," adds the actor, director and philanthropist who along with his producing partner, Nina Yang Bongiovi produced the movie through his production company Significant Productions.

Forest Whitaker and wife, Keisha
Forest Whitaker and wife, Keisha. (Royalty Image)

Whitaker's company also produced "Fruitvale Station," the drama based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed at the Fruitvale Bay Area (BART) Station in Oakland, California on New Year's Eve.

"Hopefully after seeing "Repentance" people will pay more attention to mental illness," Whitaker continues. "It's not always easy to break these mental issues.  Everyone thinks everything is solvable and I believe there are solutions, but the journey to find a solution to mental illness sometimes is so difficult.  I've seen it so much in my life and it is not always easy to break these mental issues."

 "Repentance" releases in the U.S. on Feb. 28.