It’s still unclear which direction American Crime Story—an upcoming anthology series from Ryan Murphy that’ll begin by focusing on the O.J. Simpson trial—will take. The subject matter (and Murphy’s love of camp) could easily spark a wig-stravanga in the vein of a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Then again, this project will be based on Jeffrey Toobin’s The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson—and Murphy’s adapted works (think Eat Pray Love) tend to be a little more subtle than his original work. Maybe, then, this project will find Murphy privileging his serious Normal Heart side over his more in-jokey American Horror Story side.
Despite the tabloid sensationalism it inspired, Simpson’s trial told a story about society, race, and the justice system. With the right cast, this series could tackle those issues with gravitas—and go beyond the easy O.J. Simpson jokes. Here’s our dream cast for the project, including both some of Murphy’s frequent collaborators and a few pie-in-the-sky A-list names—glove size notwithstanding.
O.J. Simpson: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Simpson was a USC football star who conquered the NFL and showed off his charisma onscreen in the Naked Gun movies. Beneath that veneer hid an abuser who beat his wife; soon, he became better known for allegedly murdering her than his plays on the field. Chiwetel Ejiofor could embody the eerie calm that Simpson exhibited during the trial, as well as the explosive rage he exhibited behind closed doors.
Nicole Brown: Lily Rabe
Through her work on American Horror Story, Lily Rabe has proven that she can take on the twisted worlds of Ryan Murphy. She could also pull off the more grounded role of a homecoming queen turned stylish L.A. wife who found herself trapped in an abusive marriage—then struggled under the thumb of a violent ex-husband.
Ron Goldman: Matt Bomer
Goldman, who was butchered along with Brown, was simply trying to do a good deed when he came to Brown’s house to drop off Brown’s mother’s glasses, which had been left at the diner where Goldman worked. Goldman was a strapping 20-something trying to make it in LA. Matt Bomer, who recently worked with Murphy on The Normal Heart, is a natural fit.
Kato Kaelin: Chord Overstreet
Kaelin, an aspiring actor/freeloading house guest who was present at the time of the murders, became known for his bizarre testimony and looking like he rolled off of Venice Beach and onto the witness stand. Having worked with Murphy on Glee, Overstreet would make sense as an actor playing a struggling actor while skewering all the Hollywood stereotypes that Kaelin embodied.
Johnnie Cochran: Denzel Washington
Washington deserves to play the lead lawyer on Simpson’s “Dream Team,” if only so he can utter Cochran’s infamous line: “If it (the glove) doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” He’s just so good at declarative statements!
Robert Kardashian: Oscar Isaac
Kardashian played a crucial role in the trial as Simpson’s longtime best friend and attorney. (He even reactivated his license for the trial, allegedly to take advantage of client-attorney privileges.) As a serious choice for the role (i.e. not Rob Kardashian), Oscar Isaac would be great. The Juilliard-trained up-and-comer is one of the most versatile actors working today—and before he appears in the next Star Wars movie, there’d be no better way to mint his rising star status than pulling a McConaughey and getting a plum role in a big cable TV project.
Marcia Clark: Sarah Paulson
Clark was the prosecutor who ultimately had everything working against her—despite strong evidence linking Simpson to the murders. Paulson, whose relationship with Murphy goes back to his Nip/Tuck days, has spent the past couple seasons of American Horror Story struggling against the odds (being put in an asylum, acid attack, etc. etc.), so this part would be old hat for her.
Mark Fuhrman: Denis O’ Hare
Fuhrman rose to prominence as the cop who bungled the Simpson case after he found the black glove—and was recorded delivering a racist diatribe, putting his credibility into question. O’Hare, who’s played a couple of twisted characters in the American Horror Story series (especially Larry “Burned Man” Harvey in Murder House), could use that shiftiness to play Fuhrman.
Judge Lance Ito: Ken Jeong
Judge Ito was the Falstaff of the O.J. Simpson trial—ridiculed and derided for everything from his questionable authority to his beard. We all know Ken Jeong as a comic actor, thanks to the Hangover movies and Community—what better way to pull off a dramatic turn than by playing the oft-criticized Ito? This could be Jeong’s passport to a more versatile acting portfolio; it could even take him into his career’s Punch-Drunk Love phase.