During the now infamous O.J. Simpson trial, legendary defense attorney Johnnie Cochran became a household name with his style, charisma, and sermon-like delivery.
Critically acclaimed actor Courtney B. Vance, who portrays Cochran in FX Network’s hit show The People v. O.J. Simpson, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to talk about his role in the mini-series.
The People v. O.J. Simpson also stars John Travolta, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, Sterling Brown, Nathan Lane, Kenneth Choi, Christian Clemenson and Bruce Greenwood.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is a limited series that takes you inside the O.J. Simpson trial with a riveting look at the legal teams battling to convict or acquit the football legend of double homicide. Based on the bookThe Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, it explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defense shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.”
Vance told Martin on Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now that playing the role of Cochran is the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
To prepare for the role, Vance said he read as much as he could and did not watch any footage of Cochran because he felt it would lead to imitation. “I wanted to just catch the spirit of the man, so when Ryan Murphy (Executive Producer/Director of The People v. O.J. Simpson) started running — doing three and four episodes at the same time — no matter what I would do or say, I would be in the moment,” said Vance.
Vance also explained that he did not talk with family members or others who knew Cochran. He said, “I felt that it would stop me dead in my tracks.”
Vance continued to explain how he prepared: “I’m going to have to pray as I step off the edge that the wings work.”
“And they did,” said Vance.
So much so that according to the actor, Johnnie Cochran’s widow, Sylvia Dale Mason Cochran, called him her “TV husband” and commended him for doing a great job.
Watch Roland Martin, Courtney B. Vance and the NewsOne Now panel discuss FX’s smash hit mini-series, The People v. O.J. Simpson, in the video clip above and don’t miss the remaining episodes of the series on Tuesday nights at 10 PM EST on the FX Network (check your local listings).
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.