(CBS News) - Forest Whitaker is already generating considerable Oscar buzz for his performance in "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Whitaker plays White House butler Cecil Gaines in the film inspired by the story of Eugene Allen, a real-life White House butler who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986.
The actor took home an Oscar in 2007 for his starring role as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," and first appeared onscreen in the 1982 comedy, "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." He went on to star in films including "Platoon," "Good Morning Vietnam," and "The Crying Game," working alongside some of Hollywood's most heavy-hitting directors, from Clint Eastwood to Oliver Stone.
Whitaker joined "CBS This Morning" Thursday to discuss "The Butler," which opens in theaters Friday, and said in portraying Gaines, "I wanted to show a sense of service. I wanted to show the dignity of his life ... which is very powerful."
"You get to see the support he gives to [the presidents he serves], the vulnerability of some of his choices," Whitaker said, noting that the choices were particularly heightened given that his character worked in the White House during the politically tumultuous civil rights era.
Aside from the political underpinnings of the film, Whitaker said that director Lee Daniels was "so amazing" in portraying "a father-son story at its core" and the generational misunderstandings that occurred as change came throughout the civil rights movement.
"You watch the struggle between us," Whitaker said. "As you go through the civil rights movement ... you understand ... the movement from a personal point of view."
Whitaker said movie-goers will also understand the civil rights movement from what he calls an unknown women's point of view, through the eyes Cecil Gaines' wife Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah "Represents the way that all these women ... supported and made sacrifices during this time," Whitaker said.
Whitaker added that the man currently in the White House, President Obama, has not yet see the film, "I'm hoping that he sees the movie and enjoys it."