“There’s something very surreal about looking in the rear view mirror and seeing 20 cop cars,” Warner tells TheWrap
When the “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” debuts on FX Tuesday, viewers will see one captivating scene after another, including the infamous Bronco chase.
The limited-run series from executive producer Ryan Murphy is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and features a stellar cast. Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as O.J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson plays prosecutor Marcia Clark, John Travolta is Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro, Courtney B. Vance plays Dream Team lawyer Johnnie Cochran and Malcolm-Jamal Warner plays Simpson friend Al “A.C.” Cowlings.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it to figure out some things,” Warner told TheWrap about the series. “In the trailers, they say ‘the story that was not told’ and I’m watching the trailers going, ‘well damn! What story did they not tell?'”
While anyone old enough to have watched the coverage of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman’s murders, and Simpson’s subsequent 1995 criminal trial, knows how the story ends, the FX series offers new insights into what happened behind the scenes, including the slow-speed chase.
“It was definitely intense for me, because even though I know we’re shooting television, there’s something very surreal about looking in the rear view mirror and seeing 20 cop cars, lights flashing, chasing you,” Warner explained. “Just that in itself is a really crazy experience.”
The real chase played out on June 17, 1994, as Simpson sat in the backseat of a white Ford Bronco with a gun to his head, and Cowlings drove him around Southern California’s 405 Freeway for nearly two hours. Warner revealed it took much longer to re-create the chase.
“We spent two days shooting that scene, so at some point we got it dialed in. You let the emotions take you on the journey and
Cowlings refused to participate in the project, and according to a report by TMZ, has threatened to sue if he doesn’t like his portrayal.
Without the real man there to guide him, Warner was forced to improvise.
“I scoured the Internet, and there was more on the relationship between A.C. and O.J., so I really had to just kind of deal with the relationship and the many complexities of their relationship and kind of draw on things from that.”
Warner admits the writers and producers were also forced to take certain liberties as they recreated the Bronco chase.
“In terms of what really went on inside the truck, obviously, the only two people who know that are A.C. and O.J.,” he said. “So, what we did was we kind of re-created and probably had to give some creative license.”
Watch Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s interview in the video above
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” premieres on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m.