WALTER SCOTT ASKS...
CUBA GOODING JR.
It became one of the most sensational murder trials in history when, in 1994, former football star O.J. Simpson was prosecuted for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Now it will be event TV when FX premieres its 10-episode miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on Feb. 2. Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., 48, tackles the role of the fallen gridiron legend.
How did you approach playing O.J.? I had met him back in his heyday. I'm a football fan, and I know his career with the [Buffalo] Bills, and that he's a Heisman Trophy winner, so my focus was to portray him with star magnitude and charisma, and as a polarizing figure.
What was it like to work with co-star John Travolta, who plays defense attorney Robert Shapiro? You want to make sure that you come to the set prepared. It raises the stakes for everybody involved. Off camera, it was wonderful to sit and hear him tell stories of his amazing encounters with other icons in the business.
Did this experience change your opinion as to O.J.'s guilt or innocence? From day to day, script to script, I would have conflicting opinions. I tell people, "We're not here to convince you of his guilt or innocence, but I guarantee after you see these 10 hours you'll understand how they came to the verdict."
I heard that Scandal star Bellamy Young is also a singer. Is that true?
A: Young, who plays the president's ex-wife on Scandal, returning Feb. 11 on ABC, is definitely a songbird. She has an album on iTunes called Far Away So Close. According to the 45-year-old North Carolina native, the recording was a homespun collaboration between her, her producer and a guitar player. She describes the process as "trying to get your heart out of your mouth and in the microphone so it can go into other people's ears and brains."
Is Vanessa Hudgens making a return to Broadway? I saw her in Gigi and she was great.
A: No word on future Broadway projects, but the High School Musical alum, 27, does have another high school musical in her future, getting her bad girl on as Pink Lady Betty Rizzo in Grease: Live tonight on Fox. The TV movie marks a reunion for Hudgens and Aaron Tveit, who will play Danny Zuko. The two starred together in a three-day production of Rent at the Hollywood Bowl directed by Neil Patrick Harris in 2010.
Magic Mike XXL star Channing Tatum, 35, adds another dancing credit to his resume as a tapdancing actor in the 1950s-era Coen Brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!, in theaters Feb. 5. Here are a few fun facts about the Alabama native.
1. As a child, he trained in kung fu.
2. He's a former model for Dolce & Gabbana, Abercrombie & Fitch and Armani.
3. Other pre-acting jobs include construction worker, mortgage broker and cologne salesman.
4. He appeared in Ricky Martin's music video for "She Bangs" (2000) and was paid $400 for the seven-day shoot.
5. Tatum and his wife, Jenna, are co-owners of Saints & Sinners restaurant and bar in New Orleans.