Next month, FX will reopen one of the most notorious cases in American history when the network airs its long-awaited original film, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Though Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Simpson in the film, is no stranger to biopics, the seasoned actor said that he refused to meet with the jailed 68-year-old in preparation for the movie.
“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 The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie, which will launch the American Crime television series, chronicles the infamous trial that saw the former football player’s legal “dream team” Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, and Alan Dershowitz prove that he was innocent in the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Gooding explained why, despite encouragement from the movie’s production team, he refused to contact the retired athlete.
“He was the O.J. Simpson whom everyone loved, not just an athlete but a movie star. And in that cage, he’s a broken man,” he said. “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.”
Filming the movie was an emotional roller coaster for the 48-year-old who said that one day in particular had especially moved him.
“There was one day after filming that I went to my trailer and I couldn’t stop crying because I never [even considered the loss] for the Goldman or Brown family.”
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson premieres on FX on Tuesday, Feb. 2.