Actor didn’t want to meet O.J. Simpson for new show

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Actor didn’t want to meet O.J. Simpson for new show

PASADENA, Calif. - Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., who portrays O.J. Simpson in FX’s 10-part miniseries on the 1995 murder trial, said he didn’t want to meet the former football star as part of his research.

Gooding, who would not reveal at a news conference Saturday his opinion on whether Simpson stabbed his former wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman to death in June 1994, said the Simpson he needed to portray in the television film was a much different man then, swaggering and confident.

“I had no desire to visit him in his present condition, being incarcerated and being a shell of a man,’’ he said.

Gooding added that he gained weight and that it took him a month to recover from a grueling six months of filming. The project, with executive producer Ryan Murphy and actors like John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Gooding, has been getting strong word-of-mouth attention prior to its Feb. 2 premiere.

The writers said they were interested in showing viewers how the seeming certainty of Simpson’s guilt in the wake of the killings unraveled during the trial.

Travolta, who played attorney Robert Shapiro, said he took four months deciding whether to take his first television role in years. He’s listed as a producer - he said it was his hedge against making sure the project wasn’t sensationalistic - but found he did little in that role.

Besides the story of a trial, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’’ needed to reflect many undercurrents, including race relations and the nature of celebrity.

Schwimmer, who played lawyer Robert Kardashian, at one point in the film pleads with a gun-toting Simpson not to shoot himself “in Kimmy’s bedroom.’’ The scenes were shot in the house Kardashian and his later-to-be-famous family lived in, which really “brought it home for us,’’ Schwimmer said. AP

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