The People v. OJ Simpson Cast & Real Life Counterparts

There is no doubt that the OJ Simpson murder case is one of the most heavily publicized cases in American history. In 1994/95, the former NFL player/actor stood on trial for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, waiter Ron Goldman. The case was so big that eventually, it was transformed into a drama miniseries – The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. This begs the question: which actors/actresses were best cast for their respective roles? When retelling a story as serious as the OJ case, the showrunners needed to make this miniseries as realistic as possible. Join us as we take a look at the key figures of the OJ Simpson case alongside the talented actors who played each respective role in the FX miniseries.

Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ Simpson

NFL player/actor OJ Simpson was at the center of one of the most heavily publicized cases in American history. It was Cuba Cooding Jr. who played the main role in the FX miniseries.

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This is the kind of role that any actor would happily stake their career on, but at the same time, they had to understand just how sensitive the subject matter was. IT was a true event that has caused much controversy throughout the years, and this show was likely to be no different.

Cuba Cooding Jr. in Real Life

There is no denying that Cuba Gooding Jr. has had mixed success in his acting career. He originally came into prominence after playing the lead Tre in the classic Boyz n the Hood and starring the war movie A Few Good Men.

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However, Cuba’s reputation went to the next level when he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 1996’s Jerry Maguire. He was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role as OJ.

Kelly Dowdle as Nicole Brown Simpson

One of the two victims that put this case into motion back in 1994 was OJ Simpson’s wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The mother of OJ’s kids, Sydney and Justin, was found dead on June 12, 1993, in Brentwood, LA, with her friend Ron Goldman.

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The couple had been married for seven years until they got divorced, citing irreconcilable differences. Despiting being acquitted of her murder in 1995, OJ was ultimately found liable two years later for both Brown and Goldman’s deaths.

Kelly Dowdle in Real Life

Although Kelly Dowdle played Nicole Brown Simpson in The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, it was an extremely brief role, to the point that she wasn’t even credited as a recurring character.

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However, Dowdle has starred in a number of notable movies and TV shows over the last decade. Her first role came in 2006 when she made a cameo in Big Momma’s House 2. Since her role as Nicole Brown Simpson though, she has starred in shows such as Lucifer.

John Travolta as Robert Shapiro

One of the most prominent figures in the “Dream Team” of lawyers that represented OJ Simpson during the trial was attorney Robert Shapiro. Despite originally leading the team, Shapiro eventually handed the role of chair over to Johnnie Cochran.

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Even though the Dream Team ultimately helped OJ win the case, there were many tensions between members of the team. Shortly after the case was closed, Shapiro decided to transition from criminal defense to civil litigation.

John Travolta in Real Life

Arguably the most famous name to be involved with The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story was Danny Zuko himself, John Travolta.

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The Hollywood superstar originally made a name for himself in the 70s with roles in classics such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for the former. However, Travolta experienced something of a hiatus in the 80s before making a comeback with hit movies such as Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty and Face/Off.

Jordana Brewster as Denise Brown

One of the people to suffer the most in the trial was Denise Brown, who was lost for words when she found out that her sister Nicole was brutally murdered alongside Ron Goldman.

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Although originally apprehensive to speak publicly about the murder, she eventually started to publicly accuse OJ of causing her sister’s death. She was also one of the most vocal individuals about the abuse that he inflicted on Nicole over the years. She is now an activist against domestic violence.

Jordana Brewster in Real Life

It was the talented actress/model Jordana Brewster who played Denise Brown in the FX miniseries. Brewster originally came to prominence with a recurring role in the longstanding US soap opera As the World Turns.

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She made the smooth transition to Hollywood, making her full feature debut in the 1998 horror The Faculty. However, it was her role as Mia Toretto in The Fast and the Furious that took her acting career to the next level. Brewster also has a main role in the Lethal Weapon reboot series.

Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran

One of the most high-profile lawyers of the 20th Century has to be Johnnie Cochran. In his long career, the late attorney was one of the go-to guy in the celebrity world, representing the likes of Puff Daddy, 2Pac, Michael Jackson and Snoop Dogg, to name a few.

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Famous for saying the phrase, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” Cochran used the term to allude to the glove that OJ tried on that was at the scene of the crime.

Courtney B. Vance in Real Life

Angela Bassett’s husband Courtney B. Vance was the man who brought Johnnie Cochran back to life in The People v. OJ Simpson. The actor who originally hails from Detroit, Michigan first caught the attention of fans and critics for his performance in The Hunt for Red October.

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Since then, Vance has had roles in movies such as Dangerous Minds, Space Cowboys, and Terminator Genisys. He has also appeared in shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Scandal.

Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden

Christopher Darden was a 15-year veteran of the LA County District Attorney when he was first hired to be involved with the OJ Simpson case.

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He had originally been asked to lead the prosecution of Simpson’s friend Al Cowlings, who drove the car during the infamous “Bronco Chase.” In retrospect, Darden actually accused the late Johnnie Cochran of “manipulating” one of the gloves that OJ was ordered to wear to prove his innocence during the trial.

Sterling K. Brown in Real Life

OJ Simpson may be the pivotal character of the FX miniseries, but it was ultimately Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden that got top billing on the show, and for a good reason!

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Brown has been crushing it in recent times, with many citing his performances in the critically acclaimed series This Is Us as the role that took his career to the next level. Since then, Brown has starred in many high profile projects, such as Marvel’s Black Panther, Hotel Artemis, and The Predator.

David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian

Long before Keep Up With The Kardashians was the reality show on everyone’s lips, Robert Kardashian was the most high-profile name of the Kardashian clan.

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However, the attorney’s involvement in the trial was multi-layered, especially since he and wife Kris Jenner were already good friends with OJ Simpson and ex-wife Nicole years prior to the murder. Ultimately, Kardashian was the man who begged OJ to turn himself in but ended up becoming a member of the defense “Dream Team.”

David Schwimmer in Real Life

Another household name to portray one of the key figures in the OJ Simpson case was Ross Geller himself, David Schwimmer. For the majority of his acting career, Schwimmer has been best-known for playing the lovable paleontologist from the hit sitcom Friends.

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Schwimmer was one of the key members of the gang for the 10 seasons that it ran. Since then, Schwimmer has received acclaim for his role in miniseries Band of Brothers and made his directorial debut in 2007 with the comedy Run Fatboy Run.

Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin

Although he didn’t seem to have any connection to either OJ or Nicole before the case, Kato Kaelin was a prominent figure, having been a minor witness during the time of the murder.

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According to the radio/TV personality, he had seen OJ around the time of the murder and in the area that it had taken place. However, Kaelin’s account appeared to contradict what OJ had told the jury. Despite this, prosecutor Marcia Clark branded him a “hostile witness.”

Billy Magnussen in Real Life

Like co-star Jordana Brewster, Billy Magnussen also came to prominence after having a recurring role as Casey Hughes in soap opera As The World Turns.

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For the next decade, Magnussen had minor roles in a number of shows such as Law & Order, NCIS: Los Angeles, and CSI, to name a few. The young actor has also appeared in some notable movies in recent times. These include the likes of Into the Woods, Bridge of Spides, and Game Night.

Kenneth Choi as Lance Ito

Another one of top billing characters of The People v. OJ Simpson, and rightfully so, was judge Lance Ito, who was played by Kenneth Choi. It was ultimately Ito who was the man who threw down the hammer, acquitting OJ of all charges.

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However, what really turned people’s heads was Ito’s general approach to the entire trial. People were astounded by the judge’s leniency towards television coverage of the trial. Many also thought that Ito allowed too many recesses during the trial.

Kenneth Choi in Real Life

Long before his role as judge Lance Ito, Kenneth Choi has gradually made a name for himself as one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. He has starred in a number of notable movies such as The TerminalThe Wolf of Wall Street, and Suicide Squad.

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He also had roles in Marvel movies such as Captain America: The First Avenger and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Choi has also been regularly featured in TV shows such as CSI, Sons of Anarchy and Glee.

Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey

After already having a successful career in law that spanned over four decades, F. Lee Bailey got his biggest case yet when he became part of OJ Simpson’s defense “Dream Team.”

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He gained publicity mainly for his cross-examination of detective Mark Fuhrman and exposed his use of racial epithets. The subplot in the case is what many believe ultimately led to Simpson’s acquittal. Bailey also stole the headlines after branding a silver flask to court.

Nathan Lane in Real Life

One of the most experienced actors to be cast in The People v. OJ Simpson, Nathan Lane has been a regular in the world of Hollywood since the late 80s.

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He has starred in a number of notable movies such as Addams Family Values, Stuart Little and Austin Powers in Goldmember. However, Lane’s biggest claim to fame is probably due to his voice role as Timon in Disney’s The Lion King. Lane also had a key role in The Good Wife.

Angel Parker As Shawn Chapman

The only woman who was part of O.J.’s infamous “Dream Team” was Shawn Chapman (now known as Shawn Chapman Holley). However, it wasn’t just O.J. who Chapman helped to defend during her heyday.

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She also worked with a vast list of celebrities such as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and even Kim Kardashian, to name a few. It was talented actress Angel Parker who played the role of Chapman in the FX miniseries.

Angel Parker In Real Life

It is hard to deny that The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story is the most high-profile show that Angel Parker has been involved with so far in her career.

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Make no mistake about it though, the young actress has already added many impressive shows to her resume. These include the likes of Criminal Minds, ER, Hannah Montana and The Young and the Restless to name a few. Parker’s most recent role came in the Marvel series Runaways.

Steven Pasquale As Mark Furhman

Without a doubt, one of the most controversial figures in the OJ Simpson trial was former LAPD detective Mark Furhman, who was played by Steven Pasquale on the show.

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In hindsight, Furhman was arguably the key figure who was responsible for OJ’s seemingly unlikely acquittal. With a history of using racial epithets towards African-Americans, it was proven that Furhman had used such slurs around the time of the case and was even accused of planting/manufacturing key evidence.

Steven Pasquale In Real Life

It has been a while now since Steven Pasquale first hit the small screen with his brief role in the critically acclaimed show Six Feet Under. Since then, the actor has made a name for himself as Firefighter Sean Garrity in the series Rescue Me.

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However, there is much more to Pasquale’s resume than just TV, with the talented actor having starred in 2007’s sci-fi flick Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. He also had a role in the video game Heavy Rain.

Cheryl Ladd As Linell Shapiro

You know what they say: behind every great man stands an even greater woman. Well, it seemed like that was exactly the case as far as Robert Shapiro was concerned.

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The key figure in OJ’s “Dream Team” is married to actress Linell Shapiro, who is probably best known for her role in the 1997 movie Burn Hollywood Burn. The couple married back in 1997, had two sons (one of whom died from an overdose) and have been together ever since.

Cheryl Ladd In Real Life

Of course, Cheryl Ladd became something of a household name after replacing Farrah Fawcett and playing the role of Kris Munroe in the popular series Charlie’s Angels.

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Although the show was eventually canceled in 1981, Ladd managed to maintain a fruitful acting career throughout the ’80s and ’90s, appearing in movies such as Purple Hearts, Millennium, Poison Ivy, and Permanent Midnight, to name a few. Her most recent role came in 2017’s drama thriller Unforgettable, starring alongside Katherine Heigl.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner As A.C. Cowlings

Allen Cedric Cowlings, better known as A.C. Cowlings, was a fellow NFL player who had been friends with OJ Simpson ever since childhood and was also friends with his ex-wife, Nicole Brown.

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Not only that, but they also played together for teams such as the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. However, it was Cowlings involvement in a slow-speed chase between OJ and the LAPD that people will remember him for. Eventually, OJ surrendered to the police.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner In Real Life

You might be thinking to yourself, “that face looks familiar!” Well, that’s probably because you remember Malcolm-Jamal Warner for his role as Theo Huxtable on NBC’s The Cosby Show.

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Although his role as Theo was probably his most iconic one, Malcolm-Jamal Warner has also starred in other shows such as Malcolm & Eddie. In the last 10 years alone, Warner has appeared in a number of high-profile shows such as Community, Sons of Anarchy, and most recently, Suits.

Jessica Blair Herman As Kim Goldman

There is no denying that the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had a huge impact on a large number of people. One of the people to be most affected was Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman.

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During the case, she couldn’t understand why news reporters got into the habit of referring to OJ by his first name. “‘Well, he’s a killer, that’s what he is. That’s what he’s called, he’s a killer.’ And that just sort of stuck,” she said.

Jessica Blair Herman in Real Life

Jessica Blair Herman’s first TV break came in 2010 when she had a brief role on an episode of How I Met Your Mother. She has also appeared on other shows such as New Girl and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.

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Since her role on The People vs. OJ, Herman has appeared on an episode of Modern Family. Then, just this year, Herman announced her engagement to another TV star, Allen Leech, who is known for his role as Tom Branson in the period drama Downton Abbey.

Robert Morse As Dominick Dunne

It was Robert Morse who portrayed the charismatic journalist Dominick Dunne, who famously covered the O.J. Simpson trial. Morse starred in six episodes of The People v. O.J. Simpson.

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When he first appeared, Judge Lance Ito gave Dunne a seat in court next to Ron Goldman’s parents. During this interaction, Dunne shared how his daughter Dominique was also murdered. He recalled how the killer was simply given a “slap on the wrist” for his actions.

Robert Morse In Real Life

There is no doubt that Robert Morse is one of the most experienced actors to have appeared on The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.

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With a career in Hollywood spanning over half a century, Morse has had roles in a number of noteworthy movies such as The Matchmaker, Honeymoon Hotel, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In more recent times, Morse played the role of Bertram Cooper in the critically acclaimed series Mad Men.

Marguerite Moreau As Laura McKinney

Another key figure in the OJ case was Laura McKinney, who famously recorded the tapes of Mark Furhman using racial epithets. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for her tapes, the OJ Simpson case may have gone in a completely different direction.

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However, McKinney recently revealed how those tapes were nearly destroyed. According to her, she “was advised by someone who was a personal friend and a judge who will remain nameless that I should destroy the tapes.”

Marguerite Moreau In Real Life

Although Marguerite Moreau has managed to consistently find work over the last three decades, her biggest claim to fame is still her role as Katie Finnerty in the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer.

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She also reprised her role for the long-awaited sequel TV series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. Moreau started off her career with a role in the popular children’s film series The Mighty Ducks.

Evan Handler as Alan Dershowitz

Another experienced attorney who was a key player in OJ’s “Dream Team” was household law name, Alan Dershowitz. After the case was closed, the lawyer wrote a book about it called Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case.

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Although many consider the case to be one of the most infamous in American history, Dershowitz played it down in the book, writing the following: “It is…not one of the most important cases of my own career.”

Evan Handler in Real Life

It was seasoned TV actor Evan Handler who played Alan Dershowitz in the FX miniseries.

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Having already starred in a number of acclaimed shows such as Friends, Six Feet Under, The West Wing, and Sex and the City (between 2002 and 2004), Handler was certainly cut out for the important role. His most prominent role came in 2007 when he starred as Charlie Runkle in the popular comedy series Californication, which he was involved with for seven years.

Bruce Greenwood as Gil Garcetti

The early 90s was certainly an eventful time for Los Angels District Attorney at the time, Gil Garcetti. On the back of the Rodney King police beating and 1992 LA Riots, Garcetti’s first term was then overshadowed by the OJ trial.

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It was a situation that threatened to sabotage his term. However, Garcetti won his re-election narrowly winning ahead of challenger John Lynch. It was seasoned actor Bruce Greenwood who played the role of Gil Garcetti.

Bruce Greenwood in Real Life

You will probably remember Bruce Greenwood from a number of classic movies such as First Blood, I, Robot, and Capote, to name a few. However, the actor has also made a name for himself in the world of TV, starring in a number of notable shows.

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These include the likes of Mad Men, Young Justice, and Nowhere Man. Some of Greenwood’s most recent roles have been in movies such as Super 8, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and the Star Trek reboot film series.

Selma Blair as Kris Jenner

Kris Jenner’s involvement in the case was very personal. Having been a dear friend of Nicole Brown Simpson for many years beforehand, it was her husband Robert Kardashian who was defending OJ.

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There is no denying that Jenner suffered emotionally during the trial. Of course, Kris Jenner is the matriarch of one of the most famous families on the planet, the Kardashians, and has since become an even bigger superstar than she previously was back in 1994.

Selma Blair in Real Life

Long before her role as Kris Jenner, Selma Blair was at one point the it-girl in the world of cinema, starring in movies such as Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, and comic-book action flick Hellboy.

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However, it wasn’t just movies that Blair starred in. She also made appearances on shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess, Friends, and Portlandia. Her most recent TV role came on the Netflix remake of the classic Sci-Fi series Lost in Space.

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark

The lead prosecutor in the trial was Marcia Clark who had previously prosecuted Robert John Brando in 1991, from the murder of TV star Rebecca Schaeffer.

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However, many believed that Clark was to blame for OJ’s acquittal due to her lack of experience and supposed prosecutorial incompetence. Some even accused her of being “grim, humorless [and] even angry.” According to Clark, she described the attention she received from the media as “the hell of the trial.”

Sarah Paulson in Real Life

It seems like Sarah Paulson is the woman who everyone wants to work with right now. The talented actress has had something of a late bloom in her acting career, with her career truly taking off after her work on American Horror Story.

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Make no mistake about it though; Sarah Paulson has been in more films/TV shows than you might think. She has recently starred in movies such as 12 Years a Slave, Ocean’s 8 and The Post.

Connie Britton as Faye Resnick

One person who many suspect could have been involved in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman was Faye Resnick. The two women first met in 1990 and were pretty close during the last few years of Nicole’s life.

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However, Resnick’s husband claimed that Nicole called him to complain about Faye’s ever-growing substance addiction. Apparently, Nicole held an intervention for Faye to address the aforementioned issues. Just a few days later, she was murdered.

Connie Britton in Real Life

It was Connie Britton who played Faye Resnick in The People v. OJ Simpson. However, Britton has been a regular face in TV and film for the last two decades, first appearing on the sitcom Ellen.

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Since then, she has starred in a number of big movies such as the remake of A, Nightmare on Elm Street, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and American Ultra. In the late 90s, Britton was one of the lead roles in the popular sitcom Spin City.