There aren’t many crime stories in recent American history that are more well known than the 1994 O.J. Simpson case — but even though Cuba Gooding Jr. is playing the former football star in FX’s upcoming “American Crime Story,” he said he isn’t feeling the pressure quite yet.
“I probably will when it’s all said and done for people to watch it, but when I’m in it, I’m in it,” Gooding Jr. told Variety at the premiere of “American Horror Story: Hotel” Saturday night. “It’s a character. You have to be the character and be confident. But yeah, reflecting on it, I will be hoping that the intent of what Ryan Murphy wanted to create in the story comes through. And I think it will, because no one pays attention to detail like this guy.”
Gooding Jr. said it was executive producer Murphy, also known for “American Horror Story,” “Scream Queens” and “Glee,” who made him want to take on the big role, with the actor saying he wants to “work with real filmmakers again.”
There’s no shortage of material for Gooding Jr. to work with when studying the character, though. The actor said he’s been preparing with a multitude of sources, but more crop up everyday.
“It’s a minutia of watching tapes and reading interviews and watching video,” he said of researching for the role. “Usually, when you prepare for a role, you can spend weeks or months and then when you do it, you’re pretty much in it. But this is like, everyday, they’re like, ‘Oh, [he] did a workout video.’ … Everyday there’s something.”
Though Gooding Jr. was in good spirits at the premiere, he acknowledges that the gravity of the role can get to him: “Some days it’s dark, really dark,” he admitted.
Still, he has quite the high-profile cast to back him up, including John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Selma Blair as Kris Jenner, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick and more.
“It’s like playing basketball with the Lakers,” Gooding Jr. said of his cast. “You got to have your best game because everyone around you is better than you. … On this set, if you don’t come with your A+ game, you’re going to get blown over. You really will.”
The 10-episode “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” will premiere in 2016 on FX.