Books That Made a Difference to Cuba Gooding Jr.

The actor and star of the new film Red Tails likes stories that teach him about his heritage and himself.
Twelve Angry Men
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D.

Twelve Angry Men

96 pages; Penguin Classics
A teleplay before it became a hit 1957 movie starring Henry Fonda, this story appealed to Gooding because of its themes of justice, prejudice, and the importance of not following the crowd. "I was hoping to make a film that addressed many of the same issues," Gooding says, and while he never ended up doing that movie, Rose's work still resonates with him. "I'm interested in what happens when a person does something he believes is right—standing up to his fellow jurors to acquit a young man—and nobody else understands what the hell he's doing. The story spoke to me so purely."
— As told to Sara Nelson