Scott Alexander’s and Larry Karaszewski’s true crime anthology series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, is set to debut on FX tonight, with the first episode, “From the Ashes of Tragedy”, being directed by executive producer Ryan Murphy.
For those not born at the time or too young to remember the trial, it spanned from November 9, 1994 to October 3, 1995 and saw former pro football star, O.J. Simpson, being tried for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and waiter Ronald Goldman. As one of the most publicised (and frustrating) trials in American history, it’s no surprise that it’s been chosen as the focus of American Crime Story’s first season.
So who are the key players that you need to know?
O.J. Simpson (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
While actor Sarah Paulson stated in a featurette that the series is not so much about Simpson as it is about the lawyers and L.A., he still plays an important part for obvious reasons. In a teaser, Cuba Goodling, Jr. commented that “there is a real urge to understand what really happened and how this went down. If he did do it…how could you find him innocent?.”
Robert Shapiro (played by John Travolta)
Shapiro was part of the ‘Dream’ defense team that successfully defended Simpson. Interestingly, this is the first time an actor has portrayed Shapiro on screen.
Robert Kardashian (played by David Schwimmer)
The former husband of Kris Kardashian and father to Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob, Robert Kardashian was a close friend of Simpson, and was a volunteer assistant on the defense legal team. Robert sat by Simpson throughout the trial.
Johnnie Cochran (played by Courtney B. Vance)
Playing a leadership role on Simpson’s defense team, Cochran became known for the famous phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” during the trial’s closing arguments (this was in reference to the blood-soaked glove found at the scene that did not fit Simpson comfortably).
F. Lee Bailey (played by Nathan Lane)
Bailey was a late addition to the Simpson defense team and became known for his cross-examination of detective Mark Fuhrman, which ultimately led to Fuhrman having to plead the Fifth during his next courtroom appearance. This cross-examination is considered to be a key reason for Simpson’s acquittal.
Marcia Clark (played by Sarah Paulson)
Marcia Clark was the lead prosecutor during the Simpson trial, who went on to write a book about the case titled Without a Doubt, describing her opinion that nothing could have saved her case.
Christopher Darden (played by Sterling K. Brown)
Christopher Darden was assigned to the prosecution team during the Simpson trial, working alongside Clark. Most notably, he asked Simpson to try on the famous leather glove during the trial, which Simpson struggled to put on comfortably. Darden has since accused Johnnie Cochran of tampering with the glove prior to the trial.
Judge Lance Ito (played by Kenneth Choi)
Judge Lance Ito presided over the trial but was subsequently criticised for allowing it to become a media circus. Many believed that Ito became influenced by the presence of media, and the publicity it brought him.
Kris Kardashian (played by Selma Blair)
The wife of volunteer assistant and lawyer Robert Kardashian, Kris was a good friend of the victim, Nicole Brown. She was present throughout much of the trial.
American Crime Story airs tonight on FX