Cuba Gooding Jr has opened up about how he went from an Oscar-winning star to appearing in a string of forgettable straight-to-video films, explaining that his own poor decisions led to his shocking career slide.
Gooding Jr, 50, received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his breakthrough role in 1996’s "Jerry Maguire." Further acclaimed roles followed in films like "Men of Honor" and "What Dreams May Come," but soon Gooding Jr’s career took an unfortunate turn: according to his Wikipedia filmography, he has appeared in 17 direct-to-video films since 2005.
“I had all these big directors offering me roles, and I read their scripts and said: ‘I don’t think this part is right for me’,” Gooding said. “And what happens is, if you offend enough big directors, you get taken off their lists.”
Gooding said he passed on roles in Steven Spielberg’s "Amistad," Michael Mann’s "Collateral," Terry George’s "Hotel Rwanda" and Taylor Hackford’s "Ray," in which he was offered the titular role of Ray Charles — a role that won Jamie Foxx a Best Actor Oscar.
Another Oscar-winning role he passed up: Playing Idi Amin in "The Last King Of Scotland," the 2006 film that saw Forrest Whittaker win Best Actor for portraying the Ugandan President.
“And I said to myself, ‘I can’t do that. He’s a bad guy!’” Gooding told "The Guardian."
While he passed on all these quality productions, Gooding said yes to a string of forgettable films like "Snow Dogs" and "Daddy Day Camp" (to name two that actually made it into cinemas).
“Oh yeah, I did some real clunkers,” he said, insisting he didn’t choose roles for the money. “Not for me. For me, it was always about protecting the sanctity of that golden statue … Because I felt I needed to show people that I can do more, I can do better.”
In fact, he says his “10 years in the wilderness” left him broke.
“I got to buy both my mum and my wife’s mum a house. I was on private jets and I was doing the limos, and then, all of a sudden, I was broke again.”
Speaking at a premiere last month, Gooding, who has made an acclaimed career comeback playing O.J. Simpson in Ryan Murphy’s "American Crime Story," revealed there was one piece of advice he didn’t listen to early in his career.
“I was told by ["Jerry Maguire" director] Cameron Crowe, ‘Your job is only to work with great directors,’ and I didn’t listen. It didn’t resonate with me, so I said ‘no’ to "Amistad,"I said ‘no’ to "Hotel Rwanda" and the list goes on and on and on ... Finally, directors were probably afraid to offer me anything,” he said.