Cuba Gooding Jr. recently opened up about portraying O.J. Simpson in a story about the infamous 1995 trial that shocked the nation.
The New York Post reports that the new 10-week series is based on “The Run of His Life,” a book by journalist by Jeffrey Toobin that chronicles the entire events that occurred prior to and during the O.J. Simpson murders case, starting from the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, leading to one of the most famous trials in history.
Gooding, who stars as O.J. Simpson in the series, entitled, American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, revealed that he never contacted Simpson while portraying him because he didn’t want to develop a firm opinion of guilt or innocence.
“I didn’t reach out to [Simpson’s] kids. I didn’t reach out to him. I didn’t want a definitive opinion of his guilt or innocence.”
Yet, Gooding admitted that, when the “not guilty” verdict was read in 1995, he was overjoyed. After filming the show and delving into the lives of the victims, however, the actor began changing how he felt about the ordeal.
“When that verdict came out [in 1995] not guilty,… I was yelling and screaming [with joy]… It all hit me [on set] with that scene, the Goldmans, the Browns — their children are gone. If you believed he did it or not, that was something that I personally didn’t care about. I felt guilty about that.”
The Jerry Maguire actor also feels that people change once they’re in prison, and talking to Simpson wouldn’t have helped him in doing his best to portray him in the series.
“I didn’t want to. There was no reason for me to. I know what incarceration does to a man. I have friends and family who have been incarcerated. They click and they start to believe whatever it is that they believe as the real thing that happened to them.”
Since he stars as Simpson during a different time in his life, Gooding didn’t want to confuse the role with the way Simpson is now, a vast difference from how he lived during the 1990s.
“He wasn’t that. He was this flamboyant, charismatic, movie star, marquee-athlete. I needed that arrogance. That was where my focus was.”
Gooding also admitted the role was the hardest one he’s ever taken on, and it took him months to recover from it.
“This was the hardest role I’ve done. It took me a good month or so after filming the show to finally get back into my right frame of mind.”
The actor also emphasized that the actors, producers, and directors only had the best intentions when filming the series. However, people closest to crime are already criticizing the series, wondering how much will actually be fact vs. fiction, which may sway younger viewers who aren’t familiar with the case into believing false events.
Ron Goldman Sr. told Dr. Phil that he’s greatly concerned that the new generation will assume that everything in the series actually happened.
“We have this whole new generation who never saw this take place, and is now gonna see this series, and assume that everything in the series is fact. And that’s very troubling to me.”
Kim Goldman, Ron Goldman’s sister, agreed with her father and said that since all the facts are already present in the case, there’s no need to make a new series about it.
“We have all the history, we have all the facts, we have all of the documentaries. Why are we doing this?”
To watch Cuba Gooding, Jr. portray O.J. Simpson in the new series, check out American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson on FX, Tuesday nights, at 10 p.m. EST. Episodes will also be available on FXNOW, starting February 3.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/Stringer]