April 8, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Cuba Gooding Jr revealed Thursday his role as football star-turned murder suspect O.J. Simpson had taken him to such a dark place that his pastor prayed over his soul.
The 48-year-old described at a celebrity charity event in Hollywood how filming FX's "The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story" had taken a heavy emotional toll.
"I was in a dark place with it. It's overwhelming the reception I get from people I don't know, famous or not," said Gooding Jr, who won an Oscar for his role in Cameron Crowe's 1996 sports comedy Jerry Maguire.
"I went to church one Sunday and the pastor asked for me to stay after the service. And then he and his wife prayed over me because they thought there was darkness in my spirit.
"I mean it's things like that where I'm like, 'Man, this show has really affected people.'"
The 10-part series, which finished this week, followed Simpson's prosecution for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
The pair were found stabbed to death outside her home and the former American football star endured one of the most highest-profile trials in US legal history.
Simpson was acquitted in the case but is now serving time in prison for an armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas.
Gooding Jr was among a number of A-listers at the annual Motion Picture and Television Fund's "Reel Stories, Real Lives" gala evening, hosted by Adam Scott of "Parks and Recreation."
He was joined on the red carpet by Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, and Bryce Dallas Howard for the event, where actors share stories written by industry members who have benefited from the MTPF's outreach programmes.
In July this year Gooding Jr celebrates a quarter of a century since starring in John Singleton's seminal social drama "Boyz N The Hood," about black youths surviving violence and deprivation in South Central, one of the poorest parts of Los Angeles.
"We're always fighting the good fight for diversity and always trying to break down doors, so I don't think that fight will ever end," the actor told AFP.
"And that movie is always almost at the top of the list for me. This was my first lead."
Gooding Jr described himself as "a young, black kid coming up in Los Angeles who had negative and positive interactions with the police."