Originally, Cuba Gooding Jr. wasn’t interested in meeting O.J. Simpson before he took on the role of the notorious footballer turned murder suspect. It’s standard that if you’re portraying a real life person who is still alive that you would want to gather as much information as possible through meetings and first hand accounts from various family members.
As we now know, Cuba Gooding Jr. went an alternative route and decided not to meet Simpson when he took on the role of O.J. Simpson for the FX miniseries The People Vs O.J. Simpson. That said, now Gooding Jr. has changed his mind, and after portraying Simpson, he said he would have wanted to sit down with the man who was acquitted in the criminal trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and Ron Goldman.
His reason for not wanting a sit down originally makes sense. He didn’t want any bias he may have after a meeting affect his performance of an already complex situation. It’s a huge pressure given the trial’s notoriety, and the millions that would go on to watch and see creator Ryan Murphy dissect the case decades later.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) February 10, 2016
That said, Gooding Jr. told E! that he’s had a change of heart when it comes to meeting with O.J. Simpson.
“I played him when he was at his most flamboyant and charismatic, and he’s just a shell of himself now, sitting in a jail cell.”
— E! Online (@eonline) February 10, 2016
So what about meeting him now? Cuba said he would be open to it. “Yeah. I mean, now. I’ve finished the character. The character’s locked away, so I would do it.”
As for getting the character locked away, that took some time. He told Variety that because he was playing this for an extended period of time, it took its toll on his psyche.
“This was the hardest character I’ve done, emotionally. It took me a while to let it go out of my psyche. I’d been in a character for six months —I’d never done that for so long. With a film, you shoot it for three months. Any day you could be doing the ending or the beginning. When you’re doing 10 scripts, you walk through it. I started at one weight and ended 20 pounds later at a different weight.”
While we can only speculate, we can gather that his decision to meet O.J. might have to do with O.J.’s underwhelming response to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s performance in the miniseries. Even though Simpson hasn’t watched it in his jail cell in Nevada, Cuba told Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live! about O.J.’s response, and Gooding Jr. sounded a bit bothered by it.
“He must be posted up at the payphone in jail right now. It’s like everybody keeps giving a quote that he said.”
Of the performance, O.J. said, “Cuba’s portrayal — I feel indifferent about.”
When Cohen dug deeper, Gooding Jr. seemed confused about the initial reaction from O.J. Simpson.
“Well, what is it? Have you seen the show or you feel indifferent?”
As the Inquisitr reported, Cuba has been empathetic towards the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Prior to the miniseries’ debut episode, Cuba said the following.
“I just hope that they find some peace because I can’t imagine what they’re going through. You know, when I signed on to this project, it was because Ryan Murphy was doing it and I want to work with real filmmakers and that first and foremost was my reasoning for accepting this role.”
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Vanity Fair]