EXCLUSIVE: 'OJ: Made in America' Offers a Look at How Simpson Was Seduced by White Society
By Stacy Lambe
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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
“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,”
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: