Courtney B. Vance Q&A: ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’
“Win, lose or draw, we knew what we did. We had an awesome time doing the series, and we became family,” says Courtney B. Vance during our recent webcam chat (watch above) about the limited series “The People v. O.J. Simpson” which aired earlier this year on FX. As Vance, who just reaped his first-ever Emmy nomination for playing outspoken defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, explains, “The show became a hit around the world for something that was as so well known as the O.J. Simpson story. The fact it was received as well, we won. Whether or not we get all 22 of the Emmy Awards that we are nominated for, we can’t focus on that.”
Along with Vance, many members of the cast are nominated at the upcoming Emmy Awards. Cuba Gooding, Jr. (playing Simpson) vies against him for Best Movie/Mini Actor. Sarah Paulson (as prosecutor Marcia Clark) is up for Best Movie/Mini Actress. And three men — Sterling K. Brown (prosecutor Chris Darden), David Schwimmer (defense attorney Robert Kardashian), and John Travolta (defense attorney Robert Shapiro) — compete as supporting actors.
Vance says that he and the others, especially Travolta, had questions and reservations when the project was pitched to them: “Is this going to be a movie-of-the-week kind of thing or is this going to be something that we’re really going to commit our time, energy and money to ensure the best story possible is put forward? Fox and FX put their money where their mouth was, and they supported us all the way down the line. They gave us our freedom, and at the same time they gave us carte blanche to do the job as was presented to us. Because of that freedom and because of that trust, we gave them something that the network has never seen before.”
Throughout his three-decade career, Vance has had a wide array of acting roles on stage, screen, and television. He won a Tony Award on his third nomination for his featured role in the play “Lucky Guy” in 2013. Films have included “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Cookie’s Fortune,” “Terminator: Genisys,” and the upcoming “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise. Recent TV parts have been on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “E.R.,” “The Closer,” “Masters of Sex,” “State of Affairs,” and “Scandal.”