Barely 12 hours after the premiere of FX’s “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story,” the series’ star, Cuba Gooding Jr., was seated front row at the Perry Ellis show. It was the third day of New York Fashion Week: Men’s and likely the first fashion show the actor had been to in quite awhile. His Q score has been soaring in the past few months thanks to the Ryan Murphy-helmed project, with the media nearing feral excitement.
It’s safe to say people have been talking to him about nothing but playing Simpson.
“Everywhere I go,” the actor said of the response. “People are just very excited about it and very congratulatory.”
When asked how he prepared to play Simpson, one of the most enigmatic and infamous villains in recent American history, Gooding said, “It was an emotional journey.” He had a little help from costumer Hala Bahmet to nail the look, but the actor took the embodiment beyond the physicality of Simpson. “It was an emotional journey of seven months; I always hear actors talk about how hard it is to separate a character from their psyche, and this is just another example of that.”
The trial, which most consider the dawn of the now-commonplace 24-hour celebrity news cycle and collective cultural obsession, is particularly topical considering the tenor of race relations in the country today — a point not lost on Gooding. “It has so much social relevance, still today,” he said of the trial. “The events surrounding Ferguson, and other police brutality instances, and our judicial system and corruption and whatnot — I think these are all issues that we deal with that we tackle and deal with through the ten weeks on the show. And as you know, are still tackling as a nation.”