Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. talked with THR about why he’s been off the scene since winning an Oscar back in 1997 for his performance in Jerry Maguire. The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story star believes that it was God’s will that he took some time off.
When I won the Oscar, I fell into that mind-set that this is a precious role. People everywhere were shouting, “Show me the money!” I just didn’t want anything that could parody the fact that I was like a tagline in a movie. So when Steven Spielberg offered me Amistad, I said no; when Hotel Rwanda came along, I said no. I was saying no to all of these things because I had in my mind the role I wanted to play. Now, ask me the role I wanted to play.
So I passed on all these great directors and wound up offending a bunch of them, and what happened was I went off the list of, “Greenlight if you have this actor in the role.” I went into the wasteland. But I think it was God’s will that I took eight to 10 years to go and do direct-to-video trash. Producers would come to me and say, “We have the foreign financing in place for anywhere from $5 million to $10 million, whatever you want to do.” So I met with writers, I developed the script, we’d shoot it, and then I’d edit it and direct it. I learned more about the filmmaking process in those 10 years and it made me 10 times better as an actor, but unfortunately people had to sit through those movies. Now I consider the director — I don’t care what the role is. When Ridley Scott called, my agent said, “Here’s an offer [for American Gangster]; they want you to play Nicky Barnes.” And I go: “I don’t have to read it. I’m in.” And then my agent’s like: “Oh, we’ll take a day. We’ll read it.” And I go: “No, no, no, Ridley Scott called. I’m in.”