Why Cuba Gooding Jr celebrated when OJ Simpson walked free from court
WHEN Cuba Gooding Jr was a young man watching the OJ Simpson trial, he was pretty sure that the football star had killed his wife. But despite that, he jumped for joy when Simpson got off.
Because for Gooding Jr, this was not a question of guilt or innocence — it was one about race.
“Back then I was like – yeah he probably did it, but at least the cops didn’t get another black man,” Gooding Jr says.
“They didn’t get us!” he raises his voice to make his point. “They got Rodney King. They got everybody else. But f--- ’em, we finally got even.” And so, for Gooding Jr, taking on the role of OJ Simpson in the new true crime project from Glee/ American Horror Story showrunner Ryan Murphy is personal.
These days, the actor refuses to say whether he thinks the football star was guilty or innocent.
“It changes,” he says of how opinion evolved during the filming of The People Vs OJ Simpson.
It’s been almost 22 years since American football great OJ Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.
They were events that captured the world. From Simpson’s live televised getaway dash in a white Bronco to day after day of the trial, the world tuned in.
In the 10-part, star-studded series, Gooding Jr gives one of his greatest performances as Simpson, and is joined by John Travolta as lawyer Robert Shapiro, Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark and David Schwimmer as Simpson’s friend Robert Kardashian.
The producers say they wanted the show to open a conversation about race.
“This is a 10-hour trailer for black lives matter,” says Jeff Toobin, the author who penned the book on which the series is based. It’s this element that makes The
People Vs OJ Simpson so relevant to modern society, where the question of race and its relationship to treatment in the justice system is still pertinent.
The other modern relevance is, of course, the Kardashians.
This was the trial that launched Robert Kardashian and his family into the public eye – so expect several references to young Kardashian children with no idea about the life that lies ahead.
Then, there’s John Travolta’s embodiment of celebrity lawyer Robert Shapiro.
Travolta was drawn to the character’s well documented ego and says he drew inspiration from egocentric players he’d known in show business.
“I knew men like him my whole life. He’s so familiar. For 40 years of my career all I did was watch these kinda guys operate,” Travolta says, naming former Paramount boss Robert Evans.
“Yes it’s Robert Shapiro but it’s also a lot of people we know.
“The egocentric self-serving dualities are amazing and fun to play … but there are serious faults with these characters. I can name about 12 people (like) this character. I just said Robert Evans because he’s the oldest and he’ll be the least offended,” Travolta jokes.
THE PEOPLE VS OJ SIMPSON
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