Over 20 years after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, Hollywood is still not done telling the former football player’s story. First, audiences watched as the trial became a TV sensation again in FX’s dramatic retelling, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Sarah Paulson.
Now, O.J.: Made in America, a new documentary over seven hours in total, debuting in theaters on May 20 ahead of its five-part run on ABC and ESPN starting on June 11, digs deeper into Simpson’s story, offering an expansive look at his rise to fame and subsequent downfall.
“He’s a much more complex human being than I think people give him credit for,” director Ezra Edelman tells ET about his film. “What the documentary allows people to do is take a deep dive into who O.J. was to inform everything that came later.”
In an exclusive look at the new film, audiences learn how Simpson quickly became a commodity as his popularity rose at the University of Southern California, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1968. “For most of the USC students, I wager, O.J. Simpson was the first African American they got to see or talk to,” Joe Saltzman, a professor of the university, says.
“He’s plucked out of the black community, out of black consciousness and he’s submerged in an all-white university. And I say this -- and I don’t say it facetiously -- he is seduced by white society,” Joe Bell, a childhood friend, adds. The insight into his college days inform audiences of what comes next for Simpson, as he becomes the Juice -- and it’s only a brief glimpse of what the documentary dives into.
“I think even the fact that exploring who he was as a younger man, exploring the difficult times that he came up in, and the self-possession he had, to choose the path he took, and to really understand his ambitions, and the way that he went through the world, and dealt with questions of identity and fame, I think that for me, if nothing else, I just learned that there was a lot more to this guy than we have been led to believe,” Edelman says.
The first part of O.J.: Made in America premieres on June 11 on ABC. The remaining episodes will roll out on ESPN June 14-18. The full documenary is in select theaters now. Watch a trailer for the full film below: