During our recent webcam chat (watch above), director John Singleton speaks candidly about working on “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” This first installment of the FX anthology series “American Crime Story” recounts the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial, which dominated the airwaves and forever changed the landscape of the 24-hour news cycle. He reaped an Emmy bid for helming episode five, “The Race Card,” which presents the African American perspective through the eyes of Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.), defense attorney Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) and prosecutor Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown). “
They were three distinct, different black men,” explains Singleton, “who had certain paths that they followed in their lives. When you saw them interacting with each other, it stayed very true to who were, and the combustibility of what that became about.” “The Race Card” also contends for Movie/Mini Writing (Joe Robert Cole) and the director explains his approach to the material. “I wanted to have a sense of heightened excitement for everything that was happening,” to match the anticipation of “what the outcome was going to be on this case.”
Best-known for his films “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), “Poetic Justice” (1993), and “Four Brothers” (2005), Singleton is the latest feature director to jump into television, first with a season two episode of “Empire,” and now this. “I love it because it goes back to independent filmmaking,” he divulged, “of being able to shoot something very, very quickly, at an elevated quality.”
Singleton made Oscar history at the beginning of his career as both the first African American and the youngest person ever nominated for Directing for his debut “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), for which he also competed for Original Screenplay. “It was kind of intimidating,” he recalls of that recognition, “but I think it was a good thing because it made me lock myself up in my house and watch many, many movies, and try to be as well-read as possible, and create my own philosophy of what type of filmmaker I wanted to become.”
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