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American Crime Story really put Cuba Gooding Jr. in a dark place

American Crime Story sounds like it was a little bit of a nightmare for Cuba Gooding Jr.

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Gooding, who played one of the starring roles — O.J. Simpson himself — opened up during an interview at the 5th Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives benefit for the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Los Angeles on Thursday, which also happened to be just two days after the finale of American Crime Story aired. At the event, Gooding explained how the role impacted his life, and why he’s kind of over it now.

“Relieved,” he told reporters about how he feels now that the show has finally wrapped up. “[I’m] working on the fact that I’m trying to just process that mentality from my frame of mind.”

He continued, “I was in a dark place with it,” and explained that the way people reacted to his decision to play Simpson, a famous football player accused of murdering his wife, was “overwhelming,” including responses he got from people he didn’t even know, “famous or not.”

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“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,” Gooding shared. “It was things like that where I’m like, ‘Man, this show is really affecting people.'”

But despite the difficulties of the role, Gooding looks back on what he calls “a fun ride” with some fond memories. And as for how he hopes Simpson himself would respond to the docuseries?

“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 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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