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Cuba Gooding Jr. calls O.J. Simpson “a shell of a man”

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Sunday, January 10, 2016, 4:00 AM

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14th, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Cuba Gooding Jr. tells Confidenti@l that he got to know O.J. Simpson both as a football star and as a broken man, for the upcoming FX movie “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” though the two never spoke.

“I talked to dozens of people in his life. I live in that area where it went down so I kind of hung out in the spots,” Gooding told us at a Four Seasons luncheon in Midtown. According to Gooding, meeting Simpson wouldn’t have helped him prepare for his role.

“I played him when he was a movie star – O.J. at 40,” says Gooding, who won an Oscar in 1996 for the football flick “Jerry Maguire.” “Now he’s a shell of a man sitting in a prison cell and I know how that can change a person, so I didn’t need that in the portrayal.”

Simpson is currently serving time in a Nevada jail for a 2007 armed robbery. But Gooding thinks that The Juice, 68, may have literally been out of his mind later in life.

“There is something to be said about CTE, the concussion syndrome that’s going on today with NFL players and boxers,” Gooding said. “It will be interesting to see when O.J. does pass (away), and if they dissect his brain, if they find he was suffering from those symptoms that promote that aggression and whatnot years after you leave the game.”


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