Cuba Gooding Jr. Is 'Relieved' 'American Crime Story: People v. O.J. Simpson' Has Concluded: 'I Was in a Dark Place with It'

Gooding Jr. portrayed the former football star accused of murder in the famed 1994 trial

Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty

Taking on the role of O.J. Simpson for American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson was no easy task for Cuba Gooding Jr. – and now he’s simply glad it’s over.

The Oscar-winning actor attended the 5th Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives event benefitting the Motion Picture and Television Fund Thursday in Los Angeles – just two days after the hit series concluded with a powerful finale – and opened up about how he feels now that the show has finally concluded.

“Relieved,” he told reporters at the event. “[I’m] working on the fact that I’m trying to just process that mentality from my frame of mind.”

“I was in a dark place with it,” Gooding Jr., 48, also said, explaining that the reception he got from people he didn’t know – “famous or not” – was “overwhelming.”

“I went to church one Sunday and the pastor asked for [me] to stay after the service. Him and his wife prayed over me because he felt there was a darkness in my spirit,” the actor revealed. “It was things like that where I’m like, ‘Man, this show is really affecting people.’ ”

Even so, he didn’t deny that shooting Ryan Murphy‘s FX docu-series chronicling the notorious 1994 murder trial has “been a fun ride,” and that his older kids were “blown away” by his role in the show.

“My boys, one’s at NYU and one’s at Wesleyan, and they’re just getting overwhelmed,” he said.

Prior to the show’s premiere, Gooding Jr. told PEOPLE Now he was “sure anybody who watches will have their own opinions,” and he attempted to portray the former football star as honestly as he could.

As for how he imagined Simpson might react to the series?

“I would hope he would find some identification of some truth as he knew it back then and that he would eventually find redemption and healing,” Gooding Jr. said. “And I’m not saying that he’s guilty or innocent, but I hope that, you know, anybody who watches this finds a better understanding.”

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