'American Crime Story': Why Cuba Gooding Jr. Didn't Contact O.J.
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (Image: Getty)

On Feb. 2, FX will air a depiction of one of the most prolific, contentious and high-profile cases of the 20th century, the People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson. This early ’90s saga involved murder, scandal and celebrity infamy for all involved, including the deceased, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman, Simpson, California prosecution team led by Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, and Simpson defense team led by Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, and Robert Shapiro.

[Related: O.J. Simpson To Ask Judge For New Las Vegas Trial]

FX released the first full-length trailer for American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson in early December, featuring a one-minute glimpse into the anticipated Ryan Murphy series, which showcases an all-star cast including John Travolta (Shapiro), Sarah Paulson (Clark), Selma Blair (Kris Jenner), Courtney B. Vance (Cochran), David Schwimmer (Kardashian) and Cuba Gooding Jr., (Simpson).

“The trial wasn’t the whole story,” the trailer says. “This is.”

The film’s details are based on The Run of His Life, written by Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and analyst for CNN and The New Yorker. The cast was reportedly asked not to contact the real-life participants in the trial as to rely on the reported insights of the book

[WATCH: ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson’ Actors Talk Why They Didn’t Contact Real-Life Participants in Trial via The Hollywood Reporter]

THR reports that Gooding had no plan to contact Simpson to get insights for playing the role and relied on Toobin’s book, trial footage, and research to mold his interpretation of the fallen ex-NFL star. (Simpson is serving a 33-year sentence in a Nevada prison for felonies including kidnapping and armed robbery.)

“I have a lot of friends and family who are incarcerated, and I know what that jail cell does to your psyche. I didn’t want him to take me into that frame of mind,” Gooding told THR.

“He was the O.J. Simpson who everyone loved–not just an athlete, but a movie star–and in that cage, he’s a broken man. Now, if I did a movie about O.J. Simpson in jail, I would do everything I could to sit with him and get into his mindset today; but I wanted to understand who he was when this crime happened.”

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson premieres Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.

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