The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story premieres tonight on FX and it's guaranteed to be the talk of the water cooler, just as the case was more than two decades ago. The riveting 10-part limited series will explore the chaotic and highly captivating lives of the legal teams battling to convict or acquit the football legend in the deeply polarizing double homicide case.
Before tuning in to the small screen adaptation of the nation's biggest celebrity trial, we've created your ultimate pre-trial guide for the 10 key characters you need to know, and the star-studded cast that will play them!
Once known as one of the most-famous running backs in football history, O.J. Simpson's claim to fame forever changed on June 12, 1994. On that day, Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found stabbed to death at her Los Angeles home and Simpson was charged with the murders. As the nation was transfixed by the the "trial of the century," Simpson's "Dream Team" of lawyers presented enough reasonable doubt to the jury and the former athlete was acquitted of all the criminal charges in the televised case. He was later convicted of charges in the civil case. In 2006, Simpson created an uproar when he announced plans for a book titled, "If I Did It," a hypothetical telling of the murders. Public outrage led to the cancellation of the book's publication, but not before some copies were leaked online.
2. Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark
Marcia Clark quickly rose to national fame as the star prosecutor in the trial against Simpson and the headstrong lawyer even became a tabloid fixture herself. The country obsessed over her hair and makeup and The National Enquirer published topless photos of her taken on a beach. After the trial, Clark said she felt "such guilt" about Simpson's acquittal. "I felt like I'd let everyone down. The Goldmans. The Browns. My team. The country," she wrote in her memoir of the trial, "Without a Doubt."
3. John Travolta as Robert Shapiro
Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro made a name for himself in the '90s as the go-to lawyer for defending celebrities and famous athletes. He was named the lead counsel of Simpson's team soon after the double murders, and is credited with recruiting the "Dream Team" of attorneys. Known for having frequent press conferences throughout Simpson's trial, Shapiro was later pushed aside so Johnnie Cochran could become lead counsel in court.
4. Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran
Johnnie Cochran led Simpson's "Dream Team" of defense attorneys to an acquittal by hammering home to the jury that there was enough doubt about the crime that Simpson shouldn't be found guilty. During closing arguments Cochran uttered the now famous phrase, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," when referencing the bloody gloves found at the scene of the crime that seemed not to fit Simpson's hands when he tried them on in court.
The late father of the now-iconic reality TV family, Robert Kardashian was also the best friend of Simpson. He reactivated his license to practice law so he could serve as a key member on Simpson's defense team. Earlier this year, a report from ABC News' 20/20 claimed that the former football pro had once contemplated suicide in the childhood bedroom of Kim Kardashian. Sure enough, the alleged moment will play out on screen in the new FX series.
6. Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden
Despite the fact that Christopher Darden had little trial experience, Clark selected the lawyer to assist in prosecuting Simpson. In bringing Darden on, the prosecution hoped to combat the view that this was a "white against black" case. Seemingly overwhelmed by the defense team, and often fumbling objections and the introduction of evidence, Darden's worst blunder may have been his request that Simpson try on the "bloody gloves."
7. Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin
In 1994, Kato Kaelin was staying in a guest house on Simpson's property. The Simpson family friend served as a minor witness in the trial and Kaelin's story seemed to contradict Simpson's version of the events on some key points. His long blonde locks, sarcastic remarks on the stand, and overall surfer boy demeanor was mercilessly mocked in the media and he was often dubbed a "slacker."
8. Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito
The televised trial of Simpson launched many in the courtroom to national fame, even Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, the man who presided over the shocking Oct. 3, 1995, acquittal. Ito's decision to televise the eight-month-long trial has been credited -- for better or worse -- with forever changing the way criminal cases are publicized.
A close friend of Nicole Brown Simpson, Faye Resnik sent shock waves through the trial with the publication of a book she wrote in 1994 with Mike Walker, gossip columnist for The National Enquirer. Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted revealed unflattering information about the deceased socialite and it was dubbed by New York Magazine as "the best-selling apotheosis of trashiness." Resnick received a six-figure advance for her enlightening literary efforts, and it was rushed to publication just months after Nicole's death.
10. Selma Blair as Kris Jenner
These days, she's know as the ultimate momager of the massive Kardashian empire, but back in the '90s, Kris Jenner was best friends with Nicole Brown Simpson. Her ex-husband, Robert Kardashian, served as a member of Simpson's "dream" defense team, much to her chagrin, and she famously believed that the former athlete was guilty of murdering her "cherished" friend.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story premieres Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.