Jim Smeal/Beimages
December 10, 2015 11:45 PM

Cuba Gooding Jr. put his personal feelings aside while playing O.J. Simpson, but the filming of one particular scene elicited an unexpected emotional response from the actor.

After shooting a scene depicting Nicole Brown Simpson’s funeral for the upcoming mini-series The People v. O.J. Simpson, Gooding Jr. says he became overwhelmed with feelings of remorse.

“I broke for lunch and wept in the trailer,” he tells The Daily Beast. “I looked at myself in the mirror and went, ‘What the hell are you doing? Why are you so emotional?’ ”

While the actor has been reluctant to reveal his personal opinion on Simpson’s guilt, he attributes his emotional response that day to his reaction to the acquittal in 1995.

“When that verdict came out not guilty, I jumped up. I was yelling and screaming,” he explains. “The man who tried to do another black man wrong, and I never grieved for those two families and their loss. It all hit me that day with that scene, the Goldmans, the Browns – their children are gone. If you believed he did it or not, that was something that I personally didn’t care about. I felt guilty about that.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. to Play OJ Simpson in New Mini-Series

As for whether he thinks O.J. did it, Gooding Jr. says, “It’s my job to divorce myself from that,” explaining that, “If I think you are one thing and I’m playing you with that in the back of my mind, I’m missing all the other things you could be.”

While filming, director Ryan Murphy would often shoot two takes of every scene, one in which he instructed Gooding Jr. to look guilty, and another to look innocent. “He says to you, ‘On this take, I want you to play it this way,’ ” Gooding explains. “That way might be showing O.J.’s guilt, or it might be portraying the frustration of his innocence. I have to be true to what he’s asking me to do. So I can’t let myself be too convinced in one frame of mind or one way of thinking.”

Besides, Gooding Jr. says the point of the mini-series is not to examine Simpson’s guilt or innocence. “This show isn’t saying O.J. did it, he didn’t do it,” he says. “We’re not about the verdict. We heard the verdict. They found him not guilty. But if you watch all these episodes I truly believe everyone will say, ‘Of course they found him not guilty.’ That’s what the focus is: to show you the absurdity of the life events surrounding that trial.”

The People v. O.J. Simpson airs Feb. 2 on FX.

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