Telling a true story that still exists in recent memory always presents a distinct challenge for Hollywood. Not only do they have to get the facts right, but they also have to contend with the fact that people involved in the inspiration for their projects will form their own opinions about the final product. As American Crime Story deals with the nitty gritty details of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, this problem has reared its head once again. If new rumors are to be believed, O.J. Simpson himself is not entirely enamored with Cuba Gooding Jr.’s portrayal of him.
During an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, the Cuba Gooding Jr. opened up to host Andy Cohen about O.J. Simpson’s thoughts towards his take on the legendary murder trial:
He must be posted up at the payphone in jail, because everybody keeps giving a quote that he says… He said that ‘he hasn’t seen the show, but Cuba’s portrayal, I feel indifferent.
As the actor points out, O.J. Simpson must have seen at least a portion of the series, despite his claim to the contrary, because he apparently feels indifferent about the portrayal. Cuba Gooding Jr. has spoken out in interviews and asserted that he is playing O.J. ambiguously, never letting on as to whether or not his version of the criminal actually committed the murders showcased in the series. Since this does not necessarily lend itself to the most flattering portrayal, we can’t exactly say that we blame Simpson for not falling in love with the series.
Of course, there always remains the distinct possibility that O.J. Simpson feels indifferent because he’s not thrilled about the actor portraying him. Immediately after Gooding Jr. relayed Simpson’s quote, it was revealed that the real life inspiration for the story had initially desired actor Denzel Washington to portray him in the series. Considering the sheer praise that Cuba Gooding Jr has garnered for his role in American Crime Story (something he has desperately needed in recent years) we are willing to bet that the right decision was made.
The series has thus far been lauded for getting so much about the history of the murder and subsequent investigation accurate that the folks at FX are going to call this one a victory; the show has already received a renewal for a second season and will deal with the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
What do you think of the performances in American Crime Story? Give us your thoughts in the comments below. American Crime Story airs every Tuesday night on FX.