Cuba Gooding Jr. is an Academy Award-winning American actor best known for his roles in films such as Boyz n the Hood, Jerry Maguire and Pearl Harbour. Born in 1968 in The Bronx, New York to musical parents, Gooding’s first job was as a breakdancer, accompanying Lionel Ritchie at the closing ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Before turning his attention to acting, a young Gooding studied Japanese martial arts for three years after high school, but soon began receiving guest star roles in US shows like MacGyver and Hill Street Blues throughout the 1980s.
His first breakthrough film role came in Boyz n the Hood, in which Gooding played the lead character Tre Styles. The film, which grossed $57.5 million in North America, also starred Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne and told the story of three young men living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles. The film was somewhat of a surprising box office smash, a huge critical hit, and was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress.
Following his breakout role, more films followed for Gooding, including A Few Good Men, Outbreak and Jerry Maguire (alongside Tom Cruise). Jerry Maguire, from which his character’s line “Show me the money!” became a catchphrase, earned Gooding an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1997. When accepting his award, Gooding was greeted with a standing ovation during his enthusiastic thank you messages as he was played off the stage in what is regarded one of the most passionate Oscar acceptance speeches.
On stage, he made his theatre debut on Broadway in 2013 alongside Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams in Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful. The production received a nomination at the 67th Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play.
In 2018, Cuba Gooding Jr. made his West End theatre debut in Chicago, playing Billy Flynn at the Phoenix Theatre. In Chicago, Flynn is a renowned lawyer known for being able to win any case, and is tasked with defending the show’s stars Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. Watch our interview with Cuba Gooding Jr. here.