What The Hell Happened To ... Cuba Gooding Jr.?
Show him the money.
Cuba Goes Indie
Cuba Gooding Jr. had been spit out by the mainstream. He'd clashed with agents over prospective roles so often that he'd been with no less than six of Hollywood's top talent agencies over the years, and reportedly went a year without representation at all. By 2005 Cuba Gooding, Jr. seemed to be making his own risky decisions, and they all led to the world of independent film.
In an interview with UGO, Gooding expounded on his new direction. "[Independent film is] where the roles were. I wasn't going to make another Boat Trip. I wanted to make more statement movies and it was all in independent films." 2005's Dirty seemed a return to socially relevant filmmaking; it didn't hurt that Gooding's character, a morally bankrupt police officer, recalled the Training Day role that earned Denzel Washington a Best Actor nod in 2001.
Gooding appeared next in another independent film, Shadowboxer. With an unusual premise --- an assassin (Gooding) and his stepmother-turned-lover, also an assassin (Helen Mirren) sign up for one last hit before she succumbs to terminal cancer --- Shadowboxer was perhaps Gooding's most daring project to date. But like Dirty, Shadowboxer opened in a handful of theaters and was panned by critics. End Game, a derivative In the Line of Fire rip-off, went straight to video. Perhaps it was time to return to the studio system.
Next: Enter Norbit