Forest Whitaker will present Screen Actors Guild’s 45th Life Achievement Award to James Earl Jones at the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, executive producer and director Jeff Margolis announced today.
Whitaker joins a growing roster of actors who will honor their colleagues at the awards show, including Christina Applegate, Angela Bassett, Jon Hamm, John Krasinski, Eric McCormack, Kyra Sedgwick and William Shatner, who have all been previously announced.
Screen Actors Guild is honoring James Earl Jones for “his career achievement and humanitarian accomplishments.”
Past recipients of SAG’s Life Achievement Award include Charles Durning, Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple Black, James Garner, Karl Malden, Clint Eastwood, Edward Asner, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Robert Redford and George Burns.
Forest Whitaker and James Earl Jones first starred together in 1996 in the television biopic “Rebound: The Life of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault,” which won a San Francisco International Film Festival Award and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. They collaborated again in 2001 in the Emmy Award-winning television adaptation of Anne Rice’s “Feast of All Saints.”
Jones’ work in front of the cameras and on stage is as imposing as his magnificent basso profundo. He has appeared in countless television, film and stage productions over his 53-year career, including such films as the “Star Wars” trilogy, the “Lion King” films, “Primary Colors,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” “Field of Dreams,” “Coming to America” and many others.
His stature as one of the greatest actors of the past half-century has been underscored by numerous accolades. He received the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and a decade later was a Kennedy Center Honoree. Screen Actors Guild previously honored Jones in 1995 with an Actor nomination for his portrayal of South African priest Stephen Kumalo in the film adaptation of the Alan Paton classic, “Cry, the Beloved Country.” His role as Gabriel Bird on the television series “Gabriel’s Fire” earned him an Emmy, NAACP Image Award, and a Golden Globe nomination.
In 1969, Jones won a Tony for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit, “The Great White Hope.” His work in the 1970 film adaptation also garnered him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe and landed him on the cover of “Newsweek.” He won a second Tony in 1987 for August Wilson’s “Fences,” in which he played a former baseball player who finds it difficult to communicate with his son, and a Tony nomination in 1995 for the critically acclaimed revival of “On Golden Pond,” playing crotchety Norman Thayer opposite Leslie Uggams. Jones returned to Broadway this year to portray Big Daddy in a revival of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” starring with Terrance Howard, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad.