Kato Kaelin Dishes on O.J., Upcoming TV Show, Whether or Not the Juice Did It

Getty Images; Courtesy of FX
Kato Kaelin, left; Billy Magnussen as Kaelin on 'People v. O.J. Simpson'

Kaelin says he was portrayed in the Emmy-nominated 'People v. O.J. Simpson' like "Jeff Spicoli from 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High.'"

Kato Kaelin was an unknown actor living in O.J. Simpson's guest house when the former football great was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in 1994. The arrest and subsequent "trial of the century," as some pundits labeled it, were the subject of FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, nominated for several Emmys, and also of ESPN's O.J.: Made in America

Ahead of Sunday's Emmy's telecast, The Hollywood Reporter got Kaelin's take on the two shows — and more — in a Q&A.

What did you think of the way FX and ESPN handled the O.J. saga?

The FX series had terrific acting, but I hope people realize it was TV for entertainment and a lot was embellished, while the ESPN series was a documentary, and it was great. You could really see how much time they put into that. They were both really interesting.

What are some examples of embellishment in the FX series?

As for myself, it showed me in places I was not at, like when a SWAT team rushes in to O.J.’s house where I was shown with the Kardashians, but I wasn’t there. Also, I never walked behind the house where the glove was found, I only mentioned to the detective that I heard a noise behind the wall of my room. If those facts are wrong, then I don’t know what else is wrong.

And what did you think of Billy Magnussen, the actor who played you?

He’s a terrific actor, but I don’t agree with his choice of how he portrayed me, but that was his choice and he had it in his mind that that was the way he wanted to play Kato. I wish we’d have met, but we only exchanged tweets after it was shot. He spoke highly of me in a People magazine interview and you can tell he’s a good person.

What specifically was wrong with the way he played you?

He played me like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the series there were three detectives at my door — in real life there were four; I guess they couldn’t afford that — and I answered the door with my shirt off. They had me saying, "Hey, I’m not a real person," or something like that, which is something I’d never say, and I’d never answer the door without my shirt on for four dudes I didn’t know. I remember when I answered the door I thought, "Why did I just open the door for these people I don’t know?" Then I learned they were cops.

Do you still remember those days pretty well?

I remember kind of a June gloom. It was very ominous.

Will you be watching the Emmys to see if the FX series wins?

I’ll be doing a TV show for E!. I shoot it Sunday and I think I’ll be viewing the Emmys on a couch with other people. I do a show called Sports Haters! on Dish Network where we say things that other people are probably thinking, so I have a feeling that’s what this E! show is going to be. We’ll also be on the red carpet being humorous, I think.

Does the FX show deserve an Emmy?

I think the actors definitely do. If I were in Vegas, I’d bet on Sarah Paulson winning for playing Marcia Clark and Courtney Vance for Johnnie Cochran. Billy Magnussen will not win one. I say that in a good way, because I like the guy, but he wasn’t nominated.

Did O.J. do it?

In my opinion, I think O.J. is guilty. 

Have you thought that all along?

No. I was sequestered during the court case so I couldn’t watch it. My opinion changed after time, but I was always uncertain. I was a friend of Nicole’s, and I think the portrayal of Nicole in the FX series was not in the best light. People should know that Nicole was a loving mom who would do anything for her kids, but she wasn’t portrayed that way at all. 

Were you sequestered the whole time?

Yes, because you never know when you’re done testifying. They could call you back. I honored Judge Ito’s request to not watch the trial on TV. The guy who played Ito in the FX series (Kenneth Choi), by the way, he was a great Ito. 

Was the real Ito a great judge?

That was the first time in my life I had been in a courtroom. I didn’t even have parking tickets. I don’t have anything to compare him to. The last time I saw a judge was at a Hawaiian Tropic event.

How is O.J. doing in prison?

I have no idea. I don’t pay attention to O.J. anymore.

What's up next for you?

I’m working on a new show I have called Wrong Place, Wrong Time. It’s a show about people who are thrust into a major crime and how their lives change even though they are not the perpetrator or the victim, they’re just the third wheel. I’ll be the host, and I created it with another person.

Will your story be one of the stories told in the show?

We have quite a few different cases, so my story will not be one of the ones told right away. I’d rather wait.

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