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Forest Whitaker on "Criminal Minds" Spinoff

From "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" to his Academy Award-winning turn in "The Last King of Scotland," Forest Whitaker has been lighting up the big screen for 30 years.

Wednesday night, Whitaker brings his immense talents to CBS for the new crime drama spinoff, "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior."

What was it about this show that made Whitaker want to get on board?

"I like the notion of exploring human behavior. We're behavior analysts, so the concept of trying to figure out what makes us do what we do was a really interesting road to go down," Whitaker tells "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge.

Whitaker, who has a starring role, used the original show as a jumping off point, yet feels the spinoff is solid on its own.

"I recently watched as it went along and I thought it was really fascinating," he explains. "And when they talked to me about what I might bring to the show, I was excited, because my character, Sam Cooper, he really believes that each person has a certain light inside of them and he has to discover it. So he's searching and searching to figure out this behavior, so it's exciting."

Whitaker's role is intense and the subject matter leans toward the serious side. What's the difference between this show and the original "Criminal Minds?"

According Whitaker, it's the cast that really lights up the screen and at the same time are very unique -- in particular comedian-turned actress Janeane Garofalo, who is the brains in a lot of ways.

"She (Garafalo) came in last. She's an expert and she's been all over the place because of it. I think she works really hard, she does really amazing work," he says.

Whitaker wears many hats and has directed "Waiting to Exhale" and "Hope Floats." Does he want to direct a few episodes of "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior"?

"They talked to me about it," he says. "I think as we get to the next season later, I'll do it."

Whitaker's first role was in the movie, "Fast Times," which was filmed almost 30 years ago. The film was a launching pad not only for Whitaker, but Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage.

"Crazy. It was fun. I was really young. I think I was 19," he says.

It's been four years since Whitaker's Oscar win. Wragge asks if it's collecting dust somewhere or is it prominently displayed in his home.

"I guess it's privately displayed. When the family goes down the stairs, they can see it. It's not the kind of thing that sits in the middle of the room," he admits.

When he's not acting, Whitaker is a father of four. His kids have been bitten by the artistic bug like their dad.

"They are artists. My daughter wants to be a composer and one is a singer," he says. "I think this show is one way for me to be able to not be a gypsy and be home more."

How does an Oscar win change the actor as well as an individual within?

"It's nice when people recognize you and stuff," he says. "Internationally, I think the world opens up in ways. But I make decisions on how I feel and it's worked for me am I am just continuing this way."