*John Singleton had plenty of good clay to work with as director of Tuesday’s episode of “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Titled “The Race Card,” the episode started off with a flashback of Johnny Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) being pulled over, handcuffed and humiliated by an LAPD officer as his two daughters watched in fear from the back seat.
Other choice scenes included Cochran and his legal team being prayed for by a black church, Cochran orchestrating the blackification of O.J.’s house for a jury visit, and the growing tension between opposing attorneys Cochran and Christopher Darden.
After Darden argues that the n-word should not be used in the courtroom during the testimony of racist LAPD detective Mark Furhman, because it would inflame the jury, Cochran destroyed the prosecutor with his rebuttal, calling Darden’s plea insulting to all African Americans – then whispering “n**ga please” to Darden as he returned to the defense table.
In our exclusive conversation with Singleton about the episode, he tells us if Cochran really said that to Darden. He also talks about meeting O.J. in person and what he wanted to convey through his direction of the episode:
Singleton also got a chance to reunite with Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays the title role.
“The first time I worked with John was in a film called ‘Boyz n the Hood,’” Gooding reminded the Television Critics Association during a panel for the series in January. “He had used that script as his thesis and got his agent because of it, and then rehearsed and rehearsed for three weeks and then we shot it and he would be sitting behind the monitor playing his video games, ‘Yeah, cut. That’s good. Move on.’ I was like, all right, he’s a wunderkind, but, you know, whatever.
“And you fast forward to him on this set, I’m telling you, he was always questioning everything. Every take; everything. And wanting to do it again and again and again, because there was always something to discover. He became a real auteur over the years since 25 years ago.”
Both Singleton and Gooding were brought to tears in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” after shooting the scene where Simpson is offended by Cochran redecorating his home to be more relatable to African Americans in the jury . Simpson gives an emotional speech about how he will not apologize for the type of lifestyle his success has afforded him, because he earned it through hard work.
“John, after their first take together, went into another room and he cried,” executive producer Brad Simpson told the TCA. “He said that it was bringing back so many memories, and that Cuba and John started off as just teenagers, as kids together, and they each have this long, complicated career journey, so his work resonates with the show, but I also think it resonated personally with all of us.”