What The Hell Happened To ... Cuba Gooding Jr.?


This week, Rotten Tomatoes turns its gaze upon the once promising, now perplexing career of a certain boat-tripping, dog-sledding Oscar winner in hopes of pinpointing just where things went wrong. So what the hell happened to Cuba Gooding Jr.? Back to Article



brian Firenzi

Nicholas Cage has made a litany of terrible film choices recently (and according to the Tomatometer, his worst yet has just been released upon us all) but he hasn't weathered one direct-to-DVD flop yet. Let us take pause to examine the big difference between these two entertaining overactors.

Just sayin'.

*I'm also aware that Ghost Rider and National Treasure 1 and 2 made bank. Note that Norbit cleaned up too.

Sep 5 - 04:21 PM

Toby May

Toby May

Curiously, Nic "Cage" is actually Nicholas Coppola of the Hollywood Coppola's. He is Francis Ford Coppola's brothers' son. F.F. Coppola is very well-connected in Hollywood and has many family members in the entertainment business.In Italian, a 'coppola' was a bucket or *cage* used to transport or contains people or things. A 'gondola' is a similar meaning, but for water travel/transport)

So i think it's safe to say that despite their similar level of acting talent, Cage has a much larger support base in Hollywood and thus a huge advantage over almost all other actors.

No doubt Cage has worked hard at what he does but Nic was NEVER in danger of being relegated to the "B" list. That sure takes a lot of pressure off a guy.

Sadly, i think Gooding is by far the more talented actor. With Cage it just seems like he desperately wants to say "dude" after his every line...

Apr 16 - 02:40 AM


JJ Eggers


Sep 5 - 04:24 PM


Peter Kaplan

This says that Snow Dogs and Radio are both "fresh" at 23% and 34%. This must be a mistake.

I feel a little bad for the guy. Some of the movies he's made are decent - I actually liked Men of Honor. But he has done his fair share of crap too. No denying that. Here's hoping he can rebound soon. He needs it.

Sep 5 - 04:32 PM

Toby May

Toby May

I think his under-the-radar problem might a result of over-exposure. Too many people too accustomed to mediocre films with his name on it makes caasting a hard chore with him.

No matter what, the guy's working like a madman and has to be making good money.

I do hope he gets another big chance; maybe he's a late-bloomer. He could be the next Morgan Freeman in his later years..

Apr 16 - 02:50 AM


Joel Feliciano

Thre is no turning back. I think that the only way to make a comeback is to star on a hit TV show and then slowly bounce back. And stop doing it for the money.

Sep 5 - 04:51 PM

Toby May

Toby May

Probably hard to stop going for the money when he earns at least a hudred thousand+ for any full-length movie, and most likely more than twice that. Make 200 movies over a lifetime averaging about $250k and that's a lot of money...

Apr 16 - 02:53 AM


Chris Maitland

Cuba needs some good roles because he can act and even in ****ty movies he normally is the best part of it.

Sep 5 - 04:57 PM


Raymond Ogilvie

It's Boys N the Hood.

Sep 5 - 05:03 PM


Raymond Ogilvie

How are you going to a "What the Hell Happened To" about a guy who just starred in American Gangster?

Sep 5 - 05:18 PM


jack giroux

He had a small role, but a good one that should have boosted his career. He is a good actor, and I bet he will have a turn around some time soon.

Sep 5 - 05:24 PM


Sam Rigney

"Starred in" I dont think he had any bearing on whether that film was good or not.

Sep 8 - 12:38 AM


Sam Rigney

I think after Jerry Maguire he went searching for his next big role, thinking he was on top of the world and could do no wrong. But after a long list of similiar action flicks with no plot and a couple of terrible attempts at breaking into the comedy section his career is over. It appears now that he will go the way of the likes of Jaime Kennedy(Son Of Mask or Eugene Levy (the later American Pie films). In terms of only appearing in poor sequels to good films that the lead actors, director and writers would not sign on too.

Sep 8 - 12:45 AM


jack giroux

He had a small role, but a good one that should have boosted his career. He is a good actor, and I bet he will have a turn around some time soon.

Sep 5 - 05:24 PM


lance berry

I think the problem is that as soon as he won the Oscar, too many people started showing him the money, and that's more than likely the exact reason he took certain roles. Or, he could have just been trying to branch out into more diverse roles(you can't get more diverse than going from "Jerry Maguire" to "Snow Dogs"), but his plan backfired so badly it put his career in critical condition, with doctors occasionally predicting it had six weeks to live.

Like Jokerboy said, I'm hoping he'll have a turnaround soon.

Sep 5 - 05:35 PM


Chris Scharlau

I want Val Kilmer damnit! I feel cuba has fallen of the map forever. His acting is sub-par, has no bankable roles taliored for him and barely anybody even remembers him.

Sep 5 - 05:38 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

Captain, thanks for the catch. halose7en, the splats were corrected and should be updated soon.

What intrigued me most about CGJr. was that his career hit such extremes, a total rollercoaster - just look at that career Tomatometer chart. He himself in interviews has discussed his troubles with agents over the years (6 agencies and a year without representation??) so to some extent it's not surprising that he had a tough time choosing the right roles. He's also no hack; even in his rotten movies he gave deeply committed and commendable performances. Talent-wise, there's no reason he should have to settle for inane studio comedies (like Eddie Murphy) or direct-to-DVD movies (like Wesley Snipes).

So yeah, I wanted to know what happened to him - check out his upcoming 2008-2009 schedule. Mostly "independently financed" action thrillers (and not "indie" in a good way, like festival films) that will likely go straight to video.

Vortex&Vertigo has a great idea - redemption via TV. It's worked for so many people.

Sep 5 - 05:58 PM


Brandon R

Cuba is one of the most interesting case studies around. I always liked What May Dreams Come. The unique and (at the time) groundbreaking visuals more than make up for its plot pitfalls.

More Oscar winners need to take the Phillip Seymour Hoffman route.

May I suggest a child actor who has fallen off for a future installment. Molly Ringwald, Macaully Culkin, and Corey Feldman are a few that come to mind.

Sep 5 - 06:12 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

Corey Feldman's doing the TV thing as is Molly Ringwald, and Macaulay Culkin has chosen to fall off the map.

Sep 7 - 02:32 PM


Josue Pilk

You could say that about the entire of the 80s brat pack. Anthony Michael Hall had been a no-show until The Dark Knight, good way to make a comeback, get a role, any role, on the biggest blockbuster of the decade. Judd Nelson's most memorable role in the last 20 years has been on Family Guy as whom else but John Bender. Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy are pretty much all television now, although McCarthy was in The Spiderwick Chronicles, Demi Moore is getting old (anyone else see Flawless?), Ally Sheedy is mistaken more everyday for Elizabeth Shue and Emilio Estevez still hasn't done anything since Young Guns, unless you include Young Guns II. But you know what? They are still making a hell of a lot more than any of us. Unless one of you is Robert Loggia in disguise, in which case...you wanna hit up FAO Schwarz?

Sep 8 - 09:50 AM


Greg Guro

If you mention peeps like Molly Ringwald, it wouldn't be fair unless you also included their Broadway acting.

Sep 5 - 06:54 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

Who knew tomwaitsjr knew Broadway! Good point.

Sep 5 - 07:08 PM


Christian McNamara

What are you talking about? "Radio" was a great performance by Cuba Gooding Jr. I thought it was a very deep movie, however I very much agree with the other movies you mentioned.

Sep 5 - 07:22 PM


jonathan ramirez

Next on this great article in my opinion should be...Ray liotta, and then Val Kilmer. Great read.

Sep 5 - 07:44 PM


victor alexander

You know you're in trouble when...you're voicing a character named "Loofah" in the TWELFTH direct-to-video sequel to Land Before Time.

Sep 5 - 08:15 PM


Scott D'Agostino

Loofah? Cuba, you've truely fallen. I didn't know they were still milking "The Land Before Time".

Sep 5 - 08:43 PM


James Lowell

You're joking?! That is awful! Ladies and Gents, I think this may very well be the final nail in the credibility coffin. Stick a fork in him, he's done.

Sep 7 - 08:10 PM


lance berry

Smartmoviekid has the right idea: Ray Liotta next! I mean, starring in an Uwe Boll film?("In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale")

Come on, man!!!

Death before starring in a Boll film!

Sep 5 - 08:36 PM


Scott D'Agostino

Loofah? Cuba, you've truely fallen. I didn't know they were still milking "The Land Before Time".

Sep 5 - 08:43 PM


Stu C

All you have to say about him is Boat Trip and you'll know exactly what the hell happened to him. I think he picks his scripts based on the color of the covers or something.

Sep 5 - 10:50 PM

What's Hot On RT

Critics Consensus
Critics Consensus

Transcendence is a Sci-Fi Snooze

Total Recall
Total Recall

Johnny Depp's Best Movies

24 Frames
24 Frames

Picture gallery of movie bears

Good Friday
Good Friday

50 movie posters gallery

Find us on:                 
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile