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…“
“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.“