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.
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D.
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Hit & Run
Simon & Schuster
"Do you know how whimsical the decision making in Hollywood is?" asks Gooding, who read this 1996 exposé of the studio system just as his career was taking off. "It's a very scary reality." In addition to its colorful anecdotes about the outsize film honchos he worked with, Hit & Run, says Gooding, "made me realize that you might get well known through big studio movies, but then you have to go find the independent films and filmmakers who tell interesting stories with interesting voices." And, as Gooding points out, black actors and directors sometimes have to pay double the dues. "If there are too many films on African-American themes that aren't working, they'll stop making them, period," Gooding says. Still, he tries not to get depressed about Hollywood. "I can't improve the system until I know what's wrong with it; information is key."
— As told to Sara Nelson