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The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is centered on one of the biggest trials in American history, at least as far as the public’s consumption of it is concerned. So it makes sense that in bringing the events of the case to TV audiences, the producers decided to go as large-scale as possible. And that meant pissing off a massive number of people, as filming the infamous White Bronco chase meant that the freeway in Los Angeles had to be shut down. And not just for one day, but for two entire weekends.
We’re talking about one of the most heavily trafficked stretches of highway in the entire country being completely shut down so that Cuba Gooding, Jr. could act suicidal in the back of a car for the majority of the daylight hours. That’s one of those things that’s always followed by someone throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “Only in Hollyweird!”
The chase, which will be seen during tonight’s episode of American Crime Story, definitely looks like it took a lot of coordinated efforts in order to get it done. The creative team could have possibly utilized a ton of green screens in order to make it look like the chase was happening on the freeway and not on some backlot, but while that may have played into the more campy angles that the show puts forth, the scenes are quite serious and wouldn’t lend themselves well to uncomfortable production design. In the moment, O.J. is freaking out and holding a gun to his head, and no one wants to be drawn out of that emotional eruption with obvious digital work.
I wonder how big of a headache it was to set all this up. FX didn’t have to worry about such things when Sons of Anarchy set its stunts on dusty roads in the outskirts of populated areas. And Archer car chases are animated, so they can put them anywhere. There are probably better examples of comparable production hurdles, but that’s all I’ve got.
The scene was given an added air of legitimacy due to spectators lining up to watch the production, which was similar to the original chase, which people also exited their vehicles to watch. And it was a group of those people – many of whom were showing signs of support for O.J. Simpson – that give the scene a moment that Gooding thought was quite poignant, according to IGN. Here’s how the actor explains it.
My character says, 'They shouldn't be out on the freeway. They could get hurt out here.' It truly represented to me the love he has for his fans. It's more than love, though; it's borderline obsession.
This scene is one of many that gives audiences a different side of the events that millions watched happening over 20 years ago, and is thus one of many that makes it such a great show. As someone who doesn’t have to take that particular freeway anywhere, on either weekends or weekdays, I think it was absolutely worth the shutdown to make this scene work.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs Tuesday nights on FX.