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Cuba Gooding Jr. Talks About “Red Tails” And All Those Straight-to-DVD Movies

Cuba Gooding Jr. Talks About "Red Tails" And All Those Straight-to-DVD Movies

It’s pretty safe to say that things have not gone exactly as planned, career-wise, for Cuba Gooding Jr , after Boyz N The Hood, and winning an Oscar for his performance in Jerry Maquire. That is, he’s become a regular staple, along with Steven Seagal, Val Kilmer and Spike Lee’s best buddy in the whole word Clifton Powell, in a slew of straight-to-DVD movies.

So in a recent interview, Gooding addressed, rather honestly, his reasons for making those films. In an nutshell an actor’s gotta eat.

As an actor you have to keep working, we’re perishable fruit. It’s an instrument and if you sit and wait too long a lot of the things you want to try, the mindset, different personalities you want to create. You can only ruminate about them for so long until you actually have to execute. It’s almost like a great guitarist, it’s about that feeling of completion once you actually hit the chord and let the music be excised through your soul…

And more…

As an actor I went through that period, especially after that Academy Award win. There were a lot of filmmakers who wanted to work with me, but they didn’t know in what capacity. What happened was months and months passed before I read anything where there was a filmmaker I wanted to work with. I wound up sitting for a long time, and it created a vacuum in that the perception of the filmmakers I really wanted to work with, even though I had great conversations with them, there wasn’t really anything there we could mutually agree up that would be great for us to work on. As you look at the Oscar movies from last year there are very powerful performances like ‘The King’s Speech,’ ‘The Fighter,’ and ‘The Social Network.’ There are no roles in any of those movies for my type… even though I’m a huge fan of David Fincher, who I’d kill to work with, or Tom Hooper, until those guys have black characters in the roles, I have to wait. There’s no complaining here, but it creates this artistic vacuum that I’m sitting in, and what happens is my agent says to me, “Look Cuba, you can’t wait for them forever! You have to work.” I finally came to terms with that. When I finally decided to get down to work the first offers were for TV shows. My fear was being locked into a television series where I’m the same character. So if I find success in that, I’m going to be that guy for 8-10 years? How can I ask audiences to see me as someone else after you see me as this character for so many years. That was always my hesitation in jumping into those opportunities. What other opportunities are there?

And Gooding also talked about George Lucas’ Red Tails , sounding pretty enthusiastic about it:

I’ve seen the movie, I’ve seen the special effects, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that movie and for people to see it. In my career I’ve done a couple of movies that blown up the zeitgeist of cinema and hit social consciousness, like ‘Boyz N The Hood’ or ‘Men Of Honor’ or ‘Jerry Maguire.’ These are movies where people are affected by either a scenario or scene or environment they’ve never been exposed to, or it just hits them and in their everyday life they can identify with. We actors live for that, and we’ve done that again with George Lucas’ ‘Red Tails.’ The movie is breathtaking, and the thing about it is, visually you haven’t seen the things that George is doing with these fighter sequences. It’s insane. I don’t want it to sound like it’s going to be a historical thing, which it is, but visually, I’m telling you, if you stay in your seat while you’re watching this movie I’ll be shocked.


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@chez-Damnit! I knew I butchered part of that story, like I’m out here spreading lies LOL. Madonna, Tom Hanks, you know they’re interchangeable :-D

Thanks for the correction chez!


Re Colin Firth-ASM: I do believe it was Tom Hanks not Madonna. It was at the after-party premiere of Mamma Mia! and Tom Ford asked the Hanks’ for Colin Firth’s personal email after interacting with Firth at the party because he realised that Colin was the guy he wanted.

But IA on agent cock-blocking.


NICE JUG!!!! I totally agree.


@Mr. Bubbles — so you can diss Cuba and call him names but we are supposed to lay off Ms. Perry?


Mr. Bubbles

Cuba is an Uncle Tom!


This is a good article but like anything, the truth is often what isn’t said. What he said about the shelf life of an actor is very true. AND the fact the Oscar didn’t make him a super duper mega-star is sho nuff true! I’ve seen many an interview with him that everything that came across his desk was “SHOW ME THE MONEY!! So he was looking for stuff to go in other directions. Where I read between the lines was I think he’s in the Halle Berry camp, they don’t seem to have very good noses for projects. Either reading them and knowing what’s quality/what they really want to do or they read them & try to do “Oscar bait”, “what’s in” or working with “A-List” people. Any of those to the extreme will get your career killed.

But check it, after the Oscar he did some good movies-AS GOOD AS IT GETS, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, MEN OF HONOR, INSTINCT, all with HUGE stars (Anthony Hopkins, Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro) but then he did started doing garbage, what happened?

I don’t buy that there wasn’t “anything” good coming in to him because he had a damn Oscar. I know for a fact that ANY ounce of public exposure will get a million scripts sent your way (and hustleman with his latest shirt line for you to endorse LOL). So, if he isn’t reading them or actively having a say in going thru them (most stars never see a script until the agent brings it to them-after the asst &/or reader has read them), you get shitty scripts that are unabashed Oscar bait or studio pics & your agent says “Gee, there isn’t really anything out there of your ‘caliber’ ” which is code for “he ain’t going for 10% of nuthin’ when he can have 10% of a craptastic big studio payday”.

Look at Colin Firth-he had no idea A SINGLE MAN existed until Tom Ford went to his friend Madonna who put them in the same room at a party because his agent was seriously cockblockin’ it-super indie with no real money for Colin (insert agent). But Colin sat down with Tom & agreed right then & there to it WITHOUT having read the script. Next thing you know, he’s nominated for Best Actor.

Point being the agent/agency is going to be your buffer about what projects you’re going to do, but they also are going to be about their own best interest about what projects you do-ups their payday & clout in Hollywood. So you have to be pro-active ALWAYS about your work & career because it’s your career, you’re the one who has to act that shit-the average movie goer will say YOU suck, not “oh, the direction of that movie was horrible so Cuba was bad”. LOL


I meant $5,000 camera or half that. Canon 5D, 7D or the Lumix GH2.


I have to say this and anyone who reads these comments will see my bent. These actors, producers, writers and directors seem not to be very educated when it comes to technology. A $2,000+ camera, or half that can give you a cinematic look with the help of any non linear editor.

Let’s be honest. They have that to spare amongst the lot of black actors and together more. You could create a movie a month with in depth characters. Unique story lines drama and comedy on a very high level.

It doesn’t have to look cheap because there are many great editors and colorist amongst our communities who would do anything just to create. a great project.

The bottom line is that we have to be realistic about two things,

1. Smaller budget no longer means less quality.

2. Distribution, how do we create the kind of film experience that Ava is trying to do for all our professional films? We have to modify our way of viewing. Even if we have to build our own theaters and create a circuit for our own stars.

3. Instead of multiplexes, those of us with the finances can create single theatre cinemas. That will show our films all over. The projectors are cheaper, the format is easier to distribute and we can create a cinema experience reminiscent of old vaudeville for our people in their communities.

For those who think black people don’t watch movies ask any local bootlegger if they don’t buy every low budget bootleg, fuzzy picture and all. Ask an of your friends if they’ve seen this or that and they’ve probably seen an old rap star in some movie on bootleg. They’ve all seen it that’s the truth.

Last point, I saw “shottas” 20 times on bootleg before it ever officially went to DVD some 5= years later and he still made money off that version. Were just not doing enough to really be complaining about any roles or opportunities.


Poor guy. And he looks so old now… Depressing.

Still, he created the vacuum himself waiting around for the right filmmaker to offer him the right character. I’m sure those offers were 20 times better than Snow Dogs, Soul Plane, and whatever crap he’s doing now.

“I just feel if people really want to do something they must do it themselves. Either by themselves or with a community of like-minded people. Why doesn’t he create roles for himself? Write a screenplay or get a black screenwriter (who needs to eat as well) to write a screenplay for him shop it around raise funds. If the powers that be won’t give you any money find it elsewhere. Go to your fan base who supported your films previously. ”

100% agree. Better than sitting around waiting for something that probably won’t come.


@ Adam, don’t speak so soon. Cuba can give the “excuse” all he wants but taking Snow Dogs, Radio and Boat Trip without a doubt added to the demise of his career. That I know for sure.


I hear Cuba, but it still makes me sad, like we have to settle. But I understand he’s gotta eat, too and keep working his craft in whatever capacity he can. It also makes me think about quality low budget projects with plenty of strong roles for black actors that actors like him have to overlook in order to make the projects that support their lifestyles (I’m not talking bling-bling lifestyles but the lifestyle an actor with his amount of success has been able to afford. He’s got bills to pay too) It all comes down to dollars. Hollywood actors typically have high monetary expectations whereas artists of other disciplines would be foolish to have high monetary expectations. The truth is, very few people making any kind of art are getting paid Bookoo dollars to do so. The ones that still choose art and entertainment as their career path, however, and hang in their do it first and foremost for the love, for the opportunity to say what they want to say.

I just feel if people really want to do something they must do it themselves. Either by themselves or with a community of like-minded people. Why doesn’t he create roles for himself? Write a screenplay or get a black screenwriter (who needs to eat as well) to write a screenplay for him shop it around raise funds. If the powers that be won’t give you any money find it elsewhere. Go to your fan base who supported your films previously. Not singling Cuba out who I respect as an actor but come on.

I truly want to see more of these great black actors doing stuff by any means necessary. Where is the true love and drive for one’s calling? We gotta hustle better than this. If you have something you truly want to do you cannot wait for people who have more money than you to give you money or permission to do it. Just do it, already!

Adam Scott Thompson

I’m just proud of him for having never appeared in a Tyler “Citizen Coon” Perry film (yet).

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