Cuba Gooding Jr.

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Cuba Gooding Jr.
Gooding in 2022
Cuba Mark Gooding Jr.

(1968-01-02) January 2, 1968 (age 56)
New York City, U.S.
EducationApple Valley High School
Years active1986–present
Sara Kapfer
(m. 1994; div. 2017)
Children3, including Mason Gooding
Parent(s)Cuba Gooding Sr.
Shirley Sullivan
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actor

Cuba Mark Gooding Jr. (born January 2, 1968) is an American actor. After his breakthrough role as Tre Styles in Boyz n the Hood (1991) he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor playing a football star in Jerry Maguire (1996). His other notable films include Outbreak (1995), As Good as It Gets (1997), What Dreams May Come (1998), Men of Honor (2000), Pearl Harbor (2001), Rat Race (2001), The Fighting Temptations (2003), Radio (2003), American Gangster (2007), Red Tails (2012), The Butler (2013), and Selma (2014). He voiced Buck the Horse in the animated feature film Home on the Range (2004).

For his portrayal of O. J. Simpson in the FX drama series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016), he earned a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, and co-starred in the FX series American Horror Story: Roanoke (2016). He played Billy Roberts in the HBO film The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), and Dr. Ben Carson in the TNT film Gifted Hands (2009).

Gooding Jr. made his Broadway debut playing Ludie Watts in the 2013 revival of the Horton Foote play The Trip to Bountiful. In 2018, he played Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago on both the West End and on Broadway.

Early life and education[edit]

Gooding was born on January 2, 1968, in the Bronx, New York City.[1] His mother, Shirley Sullivan, is a singer, and his father, Cuba Gooding Sr., was the lead vocalist of soul group The Main Ingredient.[2][3] Gooding has three siblings: April, Omar, and Thomas.[4] His paternal grandfather, Dudley MacDonald Gooding, was a native of Barbados.[3] His family moved to Los Angeles in 1972 after his father's music group had their hit single "Everybody Plays the Fool"; two years later, the elder Gooding left the family. Gooding himself was raised by his mother and attended four different high schools: North Hollywood High School, Tustin High School, Apple Valley High School, and John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills in Los Angeles. He served as class president in three of them.[5] He became a born-again Christian at the age of 13.[6]


1984–1994: Early roles and Jerry Maguire[edit]

Gooding in 2000

Gooding's first job as an entertainer was as a breakdancer, performing with singer Lionel Richie at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.[2] After high school, Gooding studied Japanese martial arts for three years before turning his focus toward acting. Early on, he landed guest starring roles on shows like Hill Street Blues (1987), Amen (1988) and MacGyver (1988, 1989 and 1990) and also had a small part in the popular comedy Coming to America (1988). Gooding's first major role was in John Singleton's inner-city crime drama Boyz n the Hood (1991), in which he played the lead, Tre Styles. The film was a box office surprise and critical hit, and is considered a modern classic.[7][8] He followed this success with supporting roles in major films such as A Few Good Men and Gladiator (both 1992), Judgment Night (1993), Lightning Jack (1994), and Outbreak (1995).

In 1996, Gooding reached a new level of prominence when he was cast as an arrogant yet charismatic football player in Cameron Crowe's dramatic sports comedy Jerry Maguire (1996) with co-star Tom Cruise, which was a major critical and commercial success and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and earned Gooding an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. His exuberant "Show me the money!" line in the film became a nationwide catch phrase.[9] His Oscar acceptance speech has often been cited for its enthusiasm.[10]

1997–2012: Established actor[edit]

Gooding at the 2016 Daytona 500

In 1997, Gooding followed his breakout with a notable supporting role in the acclaimed Academy Award-winning comedy As Good as It Gets (1997), but in the following years his career was inconsistently successful. Some of his best received performances include turns in films such as the mystical drama What Dreams May Come (1998) and the US Naval drama Men of Honor (2000), in which he played the lead role and co-starred with Robert De Niro. Gooding also received attention for his roles in the epic Pearl Harbor (2001) as Doris Miller, the ensemble farce Rat Race (2001), musical dramedy The Fighting Temptations (2003), and the football drama Radio (2003), in which he played the title role. Additionally, though not well received critically, the family comedy Snow Dogs (2002) was a commercial success. In 2002, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gooding starred in an online video game called "The Quest For The Code" which focuses on juvenile asthma management.[11]

Other roles during this time include Theo Caulder in the psychological thriller Instinct (1999) and the voice of Buck the Horse in the Disney animated film Home on the Range (2004). However, during this stage of his career, he appeared in a series of films which were not critically or commercially successful, such as Chill Factor (1999), Boat Trip (2002), Norbit (2007) and Daddy Day Camp (2007), all of which had received extremely negative reviews and, with the exception of Norbit, performed poorly at the box office. Since then, in great contrast to earlier stages of his acting career, Gooding has appeared in many more critically ignored, direct-to-DVD films than theatrical or television releases. A well-received performance as Ben Carson in Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009), and a small supporting role in Ridley Scott's American Gangster (2007), both proved to be exceptions to this trend. Gooding's next major film role was in the 2012 World War II film Red Tails, produced by George Lucas. In 2012, Gooding starred in a TV pilot for Fox called Guilty that was directed by McG. Though it was well received in screenings, it was ultimately not picked up by the network. He appeared on Channel 4's Chris Moyles' Quiz Night on August 5, 2011, closing the show dueting "Bad Romance" with Lulu.

2013–present: Broadway debut and TV roles[edit]

In 2013, Gooding had roles in several theatrical release films, including a well received supporting performance in Lee Daniels's The Butler and brief appearances in Don Jon and Machete Kills. He also made his Broadway theatre debut alongside Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams in a Tony Award-nominated production of The Trip to Bountiful.[12]

In 2014, he appeared as Civil Rights Movement attorney Fred Gray in the widely acclaimed historical drama Selma. He has since appeared much more frequently on television, including performances as Samuel Fraunces in the miniseries The Book of Negroes, as a comedically embellished version of himself on Big Time in Hollywood, FL, and as O. J. Simpson in the anthology series American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson. Despite his performance receiving mixed reviews,[13][14][15] he received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Gooding's Emmy nomination for his work on the series was criticized by some reviewers.[16] In 2018, Gooding headlined the 21st Anniversary revival of the musical Chicago in the West End as Billy Flynn at the Phoenix Theatre.

His directorial debut, Bayou Caviar, was released on October 5, 2018. On March 3, 2018, Gooding appeared as star guest announcer on the 100th episode of ITV's Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.[17]

Personal life[edit]


In 1994, Gooding married his high school sweetheart, Sara Kapfer, with whom he has three children: Spencer Gooding, Piper Gooding, and actor Mason Gooding. In 2014, Kapfer filed for legal separation from Gooding.[18] Gooding filed for divorce in January 2017.[19][20]

Charity work[edit]

In 2006, Gooding earned the Public Leadership in Neurology Award from the American Academy of Neurology for his work raising awareness about Multiple Sclerosis.[21]

Legal issues[edit]

On June 13, 2019, Gooding was booked on charges of misdemeanor forcible touching and sexual abuse in the third degree in New York City relating to an incident in which he allegedly groped a woman at a bar in Times Square.[22] On October 10, he was indicted on a separate, additional sexual abuse charge.[23] As of August 2020, 30 women have accused Gooding of unwanted sexual touching.[24][25][26]

Gooding was formally charged for three incidents, each resulting in misdemeanor charges of forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse.[27]

On August 19, 2020, a woman filed a lawsuit against Gooding accusing him of raping her in 2013 in New York City.[28][29] The two parties came to a settlement agreement on June 6, 2023.[30] As a result of the settlement, Gooding will not face trial.[31] Despite the settlement, Gooding's lawyers insisted that he and the woman had consensual sex and that the woman bragged afterwards to others that she had sex with a celebrity.[31]

On April 12, 2022, Gooding pleaded guilty to forcibly touching a woman at a New York nightclub in 2018, telling the judge he "kissed the waitress on her lips" without her consent at the LAVO New York nightclub. He also admitted to the two other alleged incidents of non-consensual contact, which took place in October 2018 and June 2019.[32]

The plea deal that Gooding reached with prosecutors called for no jail time, and it allowed him to withdraw his misdemeanor plea and plead to the lesser violation of harassment as long as he continued counseling for six months.[33]

On February 26, 2024, Gooding was mentioned in a sexual assault lawsuit brought against Sean Combs by music producer Rodney Jones. The lawsuit alleged that Gooding had "groped and fondled [Jones] non-consensually."[34] On March 26, 2024, Jones amended the lawsuit to include Gooding as a co-defendant.[35][36]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 Coming to America Boy getting haircut
1989 Sing Stanley
1991 Boyz n the Hood Jason "Tre" Styles III
1992 Gladiator Abraham Lincoln Haines
Judgment Officer Alvarez
A Few Good Men Corporal Carl Edward Hammaker
1993 Judgment Night Mike Peterson
1994 Lightning Jack Ben Doyle
Blown Away Bomb Squad Class Member Cameo
1995 Outbreak Major Salt
Losing Isaiah Eddie Hughes
1996 Jerry Maguire Rod Tidwell
1997 As Good as It Gets Frank Sachs
1998 What Dreams May Come Albert Lewis
A Murder of Crows Lawson Russell Also producer
1999 Instinct Theo Caulder
Chill Factor Arlo
2000 Men of Honor BM2/Chief/Senior Chief Carl Brashear
2001 Pearl Harbor Petty Officer Doris Miller
Rat Race Owen Templeton
In the Shadows Draven
Zoolander Himself Cameo
2002 Snow Dogs Theodore "Ted" Brooks
Boat Trip Jerry Robinson
2003 The Fighting Temptations Darrin Hill
Radio James Robert "Radio" Kennedy
2004 Home on the Range Buck the Domestic Horse Voice
2005 Shadowboxer Mikey
Dirty Salim Adel
2006 End Game Alex Thomas Direct-to-video
2007 Norbit Deion Hughes
Daddy Day Camp Charlie Hinton
What Love Is Tom
American Gangster Nicky Barnes
The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends Loofah The Beipiaosaurus Voice; direct-to-video
2008 Hero Wanted Liam Case Direct-to-video
Harold Cromer Also producer
Linewatch Michael Dixon Direct-to-video
2009 The Way of War David Wolfe Direct-to-video
The Devil's Tomb Captain Mack Direct-to-video
Lies & Illusions Isaac Direct-to-video
Hardwired Luke Gibson Direct-to-video
Wrong Turn at Tahoe Joshua Direct-to-video
2011 Ticking Clock Lewis Hicks Direct-to-video
Sacrifice Detective John Hebron Direct-to-video
The Hit List Jonas Arbor Direct-to-video
2012 Red Tails Major Emanuel Stance
One in the Chamber Ray Carver Direct-to-video
2013 Don Jon Hollywood Actor #2 Cameo
Absolute Deception John Nelson Direct-to-video
Life of a King Eugene Brown
The Butler Carter Wilson
Machete Kills El Chameleón 2
2014 Freedom Samuel Also executive producer
Selma Fred Gray
2018 Bayou Caviar Rodney Jones Also director and co-writer
2020 Life in a Year Xavier
2023 The Weapon Blue
2024 Skeletons in the Closet Andres
The Firing Squad Samuel Wilson [37]
TBA Angels Fallen: Warriors of Peace TBA
Athena Saves Christmas TBA


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Better Days Bully Episode: "Wooly Bully"
The Dating Game Himself/ Contestant IDK [38]
1987 Hill Street Blues Gang member #2 / Ethan Dillon 2 episodes
1988 CBS Schoolbreak Special Paul Episode: "No Means No"
Amen Kenny Episode: "Thelma's Handyman"
1989–91 MacGyver Billy Colton 4 episodes
1992 Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story Tyree Television film
1993 Daybreak Stephen 'Torch' Tolkin Television film
The Untouchables Tommy Taylor Episode: "Betrayal in Black & Tan"
1995 The Tuskegee Airmen Billy Roberts Television film
1999 Saturday Night Live Himself Host; episode: "Cuba Gooding Jr./Ricky Martin"
2007 Sesame Street Himself 2 episodes
2009 Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story Ben Carson Television film
2012 Firelight Dwayne Johnson (DJ) Television film
Guilty Billy Remz Pilot
2013 Summoned Detective Callendar Television film
2015 Empire Dwayne 'Puma' Robinson Episode: "The Devil Quotes Scripture"
The Book of Negroes Samuel Fraunces 2 episodes
Big Time in Hollywood, FL Himself 6 episodes
Forever Isaac Monroe 3 episodes
2016 American Crime Story:
The People v. O. J. Simpson
O. J. Simpson Miniseries; 10 episodes
American Horror Story: Roanoke Matt Miller 5 episodes
Dominic Banks 5 episodes


Year Title Role Venue Refs.
2013 The Trip to Bountiful Ludie Watts Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Broadway [39]
2018 Chicago Billy Flynn Phoenix Theatre, West End [40]
Ambassador Theatre, Broadway [41]

Video game[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Quest for the Code Cyrus Live-action

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Project Result Refs.
1991 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Boyz n the Hood Nominated
1995 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in Television The Tuskegee Airmen Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Outbreak Nominated
1996 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor Jerry Maguire Won [42]
American Comedy Awards Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Won
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Nominated [43]
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role Won [44]
1997 Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture As Good as It Gets Nominated
1998 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture What Dreams May Come Nominated
2000 BET Award Best Actor Men of Honor Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Actor Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated
2003 Razzie Award Worst Actor Boat Trip Nominated
The Fighting Temptations Nominated
Radio Nominated
2004 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Won
2007 Razzie Award Worst Actor Norbit Nominated
Daddy Day Camp Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture American Gangster Nominated [45]
2009 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story Nominated [46]
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Special Won
2012 Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Special Firelight Won
2013 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture The Butler Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated [47]
2016 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson Nominated [48]
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Movie/Limited Series Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Special Nominated


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