O.J. Simpson was one of the best football players of his generation, and he earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of it. But in his later life, Simpson became a controversial figure as the key suspect in the double murder of his wife and her boyfriend.
Between those periods, he earned fame from TV and movie appearances. Simpson became an NFL analyst and did commercials for companies like Hertz, but his longest-lasting legacy in the entertainment industry involved his movie roles. Was Simpson a good actor? Let’s take a look.
O.J. Simpson’s movie roles
Simpson had significant roles in a number of movies, reports IMDb. But he’ll be best remembered for his comedic movie work. Simpson wasn’t necessarily considered a good actor. He mainly got the roles he did because of his popularity from football.
The Towering Inferno
Simpson’s first major movie role came in the 1974 disaster flick The Towering Inferno. It focused a fire breaking out in a high-rise office building. The movie starred actors like Fred Astaire, who was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. And the film was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. But Simpsons likely didn’t play a big role in that success.
Simpson was one of the stars of the 1977 thriller Capricorn One, about NASA faking a mission to Mars. This flick wasn’t as well-received as Inferno. But Simpson did receive a nomination for Worst Supporting Actor at the 1978 Stinkers Awards.
The Naked Gun trilogy
Simpson’s most famous film work came as police officer Nordberg in the three Naked Gun movies. The last of the trio came out less than three months before his infamous double murder charge. Simpson won the 1995 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in the final film in the trilogy, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. For obvious reasons, the trilogy marked Simpson’s final work in theatrical feature films.
Simpson’s other entertainment projects
Simpson’s other projects outside of the sports world were what you would expect for a former athlete, reports Biography.com. He had a number of endorsement deals, some of which began when he was still playing. His most famous campaign was for Hertz rental cars. That relationship began in 1975 and went into the ’90s.
Simpson also went into broadcasting, serving as a commentator for ABC’s Monday Night Football and the NFL on NBC, reports ESPN. He also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live during the long-running sketch show’s third season.
Simpson’s infamous TV appearances
The most memorable of Simpson’s TV appearances over the last quarter-century is related to the double murder. Those include the infamous white Bronco chase in 1994 when he led Los Angeles police on a low-speed chase when they were trying to arrest him. That was followed by his criminal trial, which was dubbed the Trial of the Century and received tons of media exposure through networks like CNN and Court TV.
When the verdict was finally reached in October 1995, it became the most-watched event in American TV history. Reports at the time said the announcement of the not-guilty verdict drew more than 150 million viewers, 75% of adults in the U.S., reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The subsequent civil trial also drew media coverage, but not at the same level as the criminal trial that changed the way networks covered high-profile legal cases. In 2007, Simpson was arrested on charges of kidnapping and armed robbery, giving him more unwanted exposure on TV for his latest legal troubles. He went to prison for those crimes.