The story behind Cuba Gooding Jr.’s breakout roles


Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. takes an honest look at his career and explains why his standout roles have stayed with him forever on “Salon Talks.” Gooding Jr. is currently starring on Broadway in the musical “Chicago” and making his directorial debut with the film “Bayou Caviar,” in theaters now.

When asked about his most iconic roles, Gooding Jr. highlighted the ones where he felt a connection to in real life. “That one through line to all my roles that really make an impact on people are the ones that have that emotional truth to them,” he told SalonTV’s D. Watkins.

“If you think of Carl Brashear in ‘Men of Honor.’ Dorie Miller in ‘Pearl Harbor,’ or Robert ‘Radio’ Kennedy in ‘Radio.’ And even Rod Tidwell, there's this energy, excitement, but there's vulnerability in their emotionality.”

The actor and director makes the most compelling case for this when referring to his role in 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood,” which was nominated for two Academy Awards. “The line of reality and fantasy were blurred so much because I was Tre back then. Going from a breakdancer to being a lead in the movie. And Tre going from the ghetto, going to college and making it out of this violent society,” Gooding Jr. said.

Watch the video above to hear more about how Cuba Gooding Jr.’s life intertwined with his time depicting O.J. Simpson. And check out the full interview to learn about Gooding Jr.’s dream directing project.

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About “Salon Talks”: Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on YouTube and Salon.com.

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