'American Crime Story' Star Courtney B. Vance Says He Thinks O.J. Simpson 'Did It'

The actor portrays Johnnie Cochran in 'American Crime Story' premiering Tuesday.

ByABC News
February 1, 2016, 4:38 AM

— -- When "American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson," premieres Tuesday, viewers will see actor Courtney B. Vance playing flamboyant defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran, but it’s likely not a role he would have taken in real life.

Vance said he believes the former NFL star, who was charged with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, was guilty.

"Do I think he did it? I think he did it," he told ABC News when asked.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 for both murders and maintains his innocence today.

Vance said he remembers where he was when the case first captivated the nation's attention, as cameras followed Simpson riding as a passenger in his white Ford Bronco while police pursued him in a slow-speed chase on a Los Angeles freeway. Vance, along with his wife, Angela Bassett, was filming the 1995 film, "Panther" in Sacramento, California.

"I think we were all at the hotel, sitting in the lobby area and there was a big plate glass window, I just remember that, and we were watching the Bronco chase," he recalled. "We were a group watching it with our mouths open asking, 'What is going on?'"

The actor said although he had previously met Cochran, who passed away in 2005, he didn't know much about the showy attorney, who captivated viewers with his catchphrases and charisma during the nine-month televised murder trial.

Vance, 55, said he did research to discover Cochran's journey and found it very inspiring, likening it to the stories of notables from the civil rights movement.

"How dare Marian Anderson think she can be an opera singer? Who told Leontyne Price that she could do that [too]?" Vance said. "Who told Johnnie Cochran that he could be an attorney with his family coming up from the Deep South? [His] mom said, 'I know the quickest way out of the ghetto we're in is for my son to go to white schools because he'll meet very impactful young people and they'll take him into a brave new world.' And that's exactly what happened."

Vance said it's interesting that the trial has now been turned into a mini-series, especially since he feels Simpson's murder trial wouldn't have had the same impact if it wasn't televised.

"That always intrigued me. What would've happened if they didn't [air it?]" he asked, rhetorically. "Would it have turned out to be as impactful as it was if you hid it in a transcript, in a book?

"I doubt it," Vance continued. "It changed television as we know it because all of a sudden people were following it... Who follows something over the course of a year? Nobody.

"It was transformational television and the most impactful event ... outside of JFK [President John F. Kennedy's] assassination for us all to be watching something," he added. "It doesn't happen often."