For the past few weeks, the average person's Twitter TL has promptly exploded each Tuesday night at 10 thanks to Ryan Murphy's fascinating American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Though David Schwimmer and John Travolta are certainly shining quite bright indeed as Robert Kardashian and Robert Shapiro, respectively, the bulk of the attention is focused on Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s powerhouse performance as the subject of the most famous murder trial in American history.
In a new interview with Larry King, Gooding Jr. breaks down the intense emotional strain of portraying Simpson in the inaugural season of American Crime Story. "It’s one of those things where, I didn’t want to meet him playing him at this time in his life because I think I know what incarceration is meant to do to you," Gooding Jr. says of the possibility of meeting Simpson, adding that "people can convince themselves of a truth even though it isn’t a reality."
Likening the experience of filming American Crime Story to Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's masterful The Dark Knight, Gooding Jr. is quick to acknowledge the profound mental stress of diving into such an infamous and harrowing tale of real-life violence. "I would tell myself 'I'm just playing a character,' you know, but sometimes I speak of this nervous breakdown I had when we were shooting [Nicole Brown's] funeral scene."
According to Gooding Jr., the process of shaking off the "darkness" of portraying O.J. Simpson took more than a month. "I promise one day I'll binge-watch [the series]," Gooding Jr. says, adding that he has yet to watch the previously aired episodes. "It was such a dark six months going into that mindset of doing these scenes."
For more on American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, read our piece on the surreal experience of reliving the trial through the filter of a TV series here.