LOS ANGELES – Cuba Gooding Jr. found himself in a dark place while playing O.J. Simpson, in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” on FX.
“[The biggest challenge of the role was] the mindset, the psychosis; I remember when Heath Ledger talked about playing the Joker…I always used to look out of the side of my eye, going ‘yeah actors,’” he told FOX411. “But there really is a darkness when you are playing someone psychotic you have to go there mentally. It’s almost like we look over a cliff and picture yourself falling so that gives you a fear of it. So this is falling for six months and kind of what that means to you.”
And Gooding Jr. knows the importance of trying to relax after an extensive acting job as he is a fan of a karaoke night at a local Malibu restaurant.
“That’s what I do,” he said in regards to hanging out at the Malibu hot spot. “You literally step away from it and you let go and let God. I think that’s probably why I haven’t seen any episodes. Even when I do these talk shows, they say ‘let’s show a clip,’ and I look up and see the images and look down again because I’m not quite ready to go back there. I am not watching it for entertainment. I am reliving those moments as an actor.”
"The People v. OJ Simpson" has America hooked. It reeled in 8.3 million viewers for the premiere episode, beating FX's previously highest-rated shows, “American Horror Story” and “The Shield.”
Sterling K. Brown who plays Chris Darden, a prosecuting attorney in the trial of the century, said he believes the story still resonates with viewers.
“I think O.J. Simpson is the most famous black person in this country to have gone on trial for murder; I think that has a lot to do with it,” he said. “It highlighted the dichotomy between how white folks and black folks experience law enforcement. I feel like one group feels protected and served and the other group not so much.”
Gooding Jr. said he learned the facts about the O.J. trial from working on the series.
“There are so many little facts and rumors that I thought were true that are not true and vice versa.”
You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.