Cuba Gooding Jr

  1. Will Smith,Six Degrees of Separation, 1993. He told director Fred Schepisi that he wasn’t comfortable with kissing Anthony Michael Hall. “Now I see how childish it was to think that way,” he  told  the Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose in 2016,  “but as a young black actor in LA, who represented the manliness of that time period, I just felt, ‘Oh, I’m going to alienate people.’ Then you grow up.”Smith said exactly the same – in the 90s. He had accepted the rôle but not the kissing. following Denzel Washington’s advice about it harming his career. Schepisi shot the kiss from behind their heads.
  2. Michael Jai White, Spawn, 1996.   All the obvious heavyweights – Cuba Gooding Jr, Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Tony Todd (Candyman), Denzel Washington and Tarantino favourites Samuel L Jackson, Ving Rhames – were seen for the movies’ first black superhero. (The later filmed Black Panther was born first, in a 1966 comic – 26 years before Spawn).  Plus the usual rappers  LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur. And the inevitable unknown: Allen Payne, from New Jack City (with Snipes). Not easy, said White, to win audience sympathy for “the most tragic character I’ve encountered,” a government assassin back from hell. Hence, Spawn 2 and Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battle never battled.
  3. Djimon Hounsou, Amistad, 1997.   He didn’t want  to play a slave, either.  Nor did Denzel Washington, Steven Spielberg’s (obvious) first choice. Then again, Gooding had won the support Oscar for Jerry Maguireon March 24, 1997. He called his Oscar a curse. “How am I going to top that?People everywhere were shouting: ‘Show me the money!’ So I passed on all these great directors and wound up offending a bunch of them [not just Spielberg but the brothers Farrelly, Terry George, Michael Mann]and… I went into the  wasteland.”While thinking, he was looked upon “as a brilliant actor who was saving his talent.”
  4. Matt Dillon, There’s Something About Mary, 1997.    Fox wanted Bill Murray as sleazy shamus Pat Healy, latest in a long line smitten with the gorgeous Cameron Diaz. The Farrelly brothers rightly said he was too old and suggested Azaria, Gooding or Vince Vaughn. Easiest role for Dillon – he was Cameron’s lover at the time.
  5. David Conrad, Return To Paradise,1988.  Midnight  Express moves to Malaysia… as lawyer Anne Heche asks two of his pals to agree  to jail time to save Joaquin Phoenix from a drugs-related death sentence – a variation, noted critic  Roger Ebert, of The Prisoner’s Dilemma,“one of the oldest puzzles in mathematics and philosophy.”
  6. Jamie Foxx, Any Given Sunday,1999. When Puff Daddy didn’t work out (nor P Diddy, Puffy, Diddy, Brother Love and B Love..!)for the  third-string quarterbackSteamin’ Willie Beamen,  director Oliver Stone met with  Gooding – and rejected him because he’d already played a football player in Jerry Maguire!
  7. Michael Jai White Spawn, 1996.   Snoop Dogg and (of course) Wesley Snipes were also sought for Hollywood’s first black superhero – Al Simmons, burned  into the titular general of The Devil’s armies. (“Bleaker than Batman and crisper than bacon,”said Washington Post critic Rita Kempley). White was good; John Leguizamo  (unrecognisable as Clown) had better lines. “I’ve got more tricks than a hooker!”  “Every time someone farts, a demon gets his wings.”
  8. Ben Affleck, Daredevil,2002.     Gooding was the sole black and Oscar-winner in  the DD loop for MM, the blind hero Matt Murdock: Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Colin Farrell, Jr, Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulkin 2007), Guy Pearce, Patrick Wilson.  (He became the UK actor Charlie Cox for Marvel’s  2015 TV series).
  9. Jamie Foxx, Collateral, 2003.  The cabby driving a hitman to his LA targets changed – from Foxx, Gooding, Robert De Niro toJohnny Depp – almost as  often as the thriller’s director: Scorsese, Spielberg to Spike Lee and, finally, Michael Mann… who rejected Cuba as Max for having previously worked with Tom Cruise, booked as Vincent.  Huh?
  10. Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda, 2004.  No, again… and Cheadle won an Oscar nomination in 2008. “I was saying no to all of these things because I had in my mind the role I wanted to play. Now, ask me the role I wanted to play…   I had no fuckin’ idea. [Laugh].”  Working on both sjdes of the camera on “direct-to-video  trash”  for ten years  taught him much about film-making.   Now he considers the director, not the role. For example, he explained to Lacey Rose, when his agent suggested taking a day to think about an offer to be Harlem hood Nicky Barnes in American Gangster, Gooding said:  “No, no, no!  Ridley Scottcalled! I’m in.”
  11. Jamie Foxx, Ray, 2004. The role was Fay Charles. The director was Taylor Hackford. And the chumn was Gooding, still turning everything down, runninbg out of money and freefalling into a Lord Mayor’s parade of  of  clunkers. Here’d how he laid it out for the London Sunday Times writer Rosie Kinchnen in 2018: “I’d spend two months rewriting a script with a writer who doesn’t know what he’s doing, find a first-time diorector [who] let his girlfriend be my co-star, spend a month in the editing room turning it into a film that’s not great but maybe there’s something there. Then find the studio change the ending… I’d yell and scream …[but] on every film I learned something.”
  12. Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained, 2012.    Show who the money! Cuba  has a running dialogue with Foxx. Jamie always asks about the Oscar that should have been his for Jerry Maguire (he won bis own for Ray, which Gooding rejected) and Cuba rides him about getting the role that Gooding wanted badly enough that he shot his own screen test (riding quarter horses) for Tarantino.Gooding’s comeback began as The Juice in…The People v OJ Simpson : American Crime Story, TV, 2016-2018,  “it emotionally destroyed me for a couple of years,” and  on-stage as the razzle-dazzle lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago revival in London in 2018.   


 Birth year: 1968Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  12