Cuba Gooding Jr. Calls O.J. Simpson "The Darkest Role [He] Had Ever Done"
"I still am proud of what I did, even though I still feel the residual in my psyche,” said the lead actor of FX's 'The People v. O.J. Simpson.'
Cuba Gooding Jr. discussed the difficulty and intrigue of playing a real-life character, particularly one as dark and dynamic as O.J. Simpson, whom he portrays in FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, during The Hollywood Reporter's Drama Actor Emmy Roundtable. “I think it’s because we as actors try to find an emotional truth to the character in whatever situation we put him in," said Gooding. "You do your research and try to get his mannerisms down, you try to get the hair to look as much like that character, but when you connect with that character truthfully, the audience will forget what he looks like.”
“When we see our work, we look for the truth, when we’re really caught up in it," he said, noting that if an actor focuses enough on the emotional arc of a real-life character, it doesn't matter so much if you can imitate him.
Gooding went on to say, "It took me a month and half to shake O.J. Simpson from my psyche. It really did, because it was the darkest role that I had ever done, and yet I still am proud of what I did even though I still feel the residual in my psyche.”
Gooding demonstrated O.J. sinking into his psyche with an anecdote about an eerie parallel between Gooding's and Simpson's lives, saying, “Friday after we wrapped filming, I got two tickets to see the Blackhawks in Chicago. Saturday, I went to my daughter’s dance recital, she’s 10, my wife and I — she didn’t have a ticket for me, so I got upset. I said, ‘Don’t think about her, just focus on Piper. It’s Piper’s day.’ And then I watched, and then that night got on a plane to Chicago, and it hit me. The Saturday before the murders, O.J. went to his daughter’s dance recital, and went off — he was f—king furious that [Nicole Brown] didn’t have a seat for him. And that night the murders happened, he flew to Chicago.”
More roundtables featuring comedy actors and actresses, drama actresses, comedy and drama showrunners, and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With the Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on Sundance TV, with the premiere of the Drama Actors Roundtable on Sunday, July 4. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.