Ridley Scott Schools Cuba Gooding, Jr. in American Gangster

Scott has ideas, and so does Gooding.

by | August 13, 2007 | Comments

Denzel Washington
and Russell Crowe
have the headlining roles in
American Gangster
but Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a part in Washington’s storyline too. He recalled a
particularly striking scene where he was reminded of the clout with whom he was

, it’s like working with Yoda," said Gooding. "I mean, there was one
scene where it’s just a really violent scene, a real aggressive scene, and
Denzel and I were in a competition. And something wasn’t working. I go, ‘Listen,
if we…’ and I kind of rattled off real quick. And everybody’s kind of shaking
their head, and Ridley goes, ‘You know, I have done this before.’ It’s like,
‘That’s right! Okay. So what do you want us to do?’"

Gooding plays Nicky Barnes,
the pimp who brought heroin to Harlem in the ’70s. Expect a wild performance
from Gooding. "My character in that is pretty flamboyant. I start to build the
physicality of the character from the haircut up. I cut my own hair for all my
movies and work very closely with the wardrobe person, especially like in
American Gangster. You’ll understand that when you see it. And then there’s a
walk. You know like Jerry Maguire, there was a very specific walk that I had to
have for him. You kind of do the private investigator on these different aspects
of the character’s personality."

American Gangster, about the power struggles of drug syndicates in 1970s Harlem, opens November 2, 2007.

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