When The People v. O.J. Simpson premieres Tuesday, the gripping re-telling of the trial that captivated the nation will likely have you hooked within the first few minutes. Sarah Paulson's revelatory turn as Marcia Clark alone is worth the price of admission, though she's hardly the only thing to write home about in the stunning limited series. But the FX series won't be a delight to everybody—perhaps understandably so.
The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, the victims of the heinous crime at the center of series, have publicly expressed their discomfort over the series' existence after not being included in the making of the show. But as star Cuba Gooding Jr. exclusively tells E! News' Kristin Dos Santos, the series was filmed with the best of intentions.
Ron Galella/WireImage; FX
"I just hope that they find some peace because I can't imagine what they're going through," he says when asked if there's anything he'd like to tell the families. "You know, when I signed on to this project, it was because Ryan Murphy was doing it and I want to work with real filmmakers and that first and foremost was my reasoning for accepting this role. Prior to this offering, I had an offer to do a film based on O.J.'s innocence and I passed. So, here I am. So, I don't pretend to try to understand what any of this means to either the Goldmans or the Browns, but I'm an actor. I was asked to do a role. Hopefully I brought some truth to it and that will help in the process of understanding the circus that was this time in America."
He adds that the goal was to use their considerable talents to faithfully present the lives of those caught up in the media circus surrounding the case to this new generation. "I want people to know that we had the best intentions to bring our artistry to the lives and the events surrounding that trial and the personalities that were surrounding it as well," Gooding says.
Author Jeffrey Toobin, whose book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson was used as the series' main source material, explains why the family wasn't contacted by Ryan Murphy and his team. "The filmmakers here were not journalists, they didn't go out and interview people," he tells E! News. "They relied on my book. They looked at other sources, but this is a story, fundamentally, about the lawyers on each side and everyone involved was aware of these two innocent victims. They were treated with respect throughout the process. The murders were not re-enacted, there are no actors portraying them. It's really about how this phenomenon happened."
Toobin adds that the series' goal wasn't one of absolute authenticity. "This series is not a documentary," he says. "It is not a word-for-word re-creation of what happened, but in terms of the essential truths of the events, in terms of the insights into the characters, it is brilliant and everyone will learn a lot and be entertained a lot."
As for the families, Toobin, who knows the Goldmans "very well," had one very important thing to say: "No one can know their pain, but you can respect their pain and that's what we tried to do."
The People v. O.J. Simpson premieres Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. on FX.