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Owen Wilson Refused a $12 Million Lead Role in an O.J. Simpson Film Because It Suggested He Was Innocent

Photo Credit: Ernesto Ruscio / Getty Images for Paramount Pictures and Ted Soqui / Sygma / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ernesto Ruscio / Getty Images for Paramount Pictures and Ted Soqui / Sygma / Getty Images

A job is a job, as some people say, but even some people have a limit as to what they will sign on to do. Take actor Owen Wilson, for instance. He was offered a massive amount of money to star in a film about the O.J. Simpson murder trial, but after learning how the film would play out, he swiftly declined. The effects of the polarizing trial continue to be seen almost 30 years later.

The O.J. Simpson murder trial

O.J. Simpson on trial with his hands up.
O.J. Simpson shows the jury a new pair of Aris extra-large gloves, similar to the gloves found at the Bundy and Rockingham crime scene on 21 June 1995, during his double murder trial in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo Credit: VINCE BUCCI / AFP / Getty Images)

In 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found brutally murdered outside of her condominium. There was plenty of evidence that pointed the guilty finger at O.J. Simpson, as not only was Nicole his ex-wife,  but the matching glove to the one found at the crime scene was found in his house, and blood matching the DNA of both victims was found on the inside of his Ford Bronco. Not to mention the car chase that he was involved in when he was asked to come in for questioning. A lot of things about the crime heavily suggested that it was Simpson who had committed the crime.

However, during the trial that took place in 1995, the defense claimed that the evidence that was found to support Simpson’s guilt was intentionally placed to put the blame on him. In an iconic statement from the trial, the defense claimed that the glove found at the crime scene didn’t even fit Simpson’s hand, saying, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Additionally, they claimed that he was the victim of racial prejudice, as the Los Angeles Police Department had a long history of racial bias.

Ultimately, Simpson was found not guilty of the murder of Nicole and Goldman, but that verdict has not sat right with a lot of people. Many are still convinced that he was responsible for their deaths.

The film has been a long time coming

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson.
O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson pose at the premiere of the “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult,” in which O.J. starred on March 16, 1994, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Vinnie Zuffante / Getty Images)

The trial was a huge moment in history, not only because it included a high-profile suspect but because the entire trial was extremely polarizing. To this day, people still argue whether the jury was correct in their verdict. It is no surprise, then, that a film adaptation of the event has been in the works.

The film has actually been a long time coming. Originally titled Nicole & O.J. but later renamed The Juice, the film focuses on the tumultuous relationship between Simpson and Nicole and the circumstances surrounding her murder and that of Goldman. Initial work on the film was announced back in 2013, with British filmmaker Joshua Newton set to write and direct the movie. It was originally set to be completed and released in the summer of 2014, but it was never completed. 

Wilson turned it down once he realized

Headshot of Owen Wilson.
Owen Wilson attends the Los Angeles Premiere of IFC Films’ “Paint” at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on March 23, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images)

Newton recently explained that he believed actor Owen Wilson would be the perfect match to play the role of the real-life attorney Douglas McCann, who became entangled in many conspiracy theories during the trial. “Owen Wilson was perfect for the role,” Newton previously explained. “I actually had a meeting with him in Santa Monica. Everybody loved the script. His agent wanted him to do it. We offered him $12 million.”

Things looked as though Wilson would be on board, but it turns out not even $12 million could get him to sign on. After reading the entire script, Wilson firmly pulled out of the deal. He wants absolutely nothing to do with the film, as it insinuates that Simpson was innocent of the crimes. He reportedly said, “If you think I’m going to take the lead role in a movie about how O.J. didn’t do it, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Newton’s inability to secure a lead actor is one of the reasons the film took so long to create.

More from us: Martin Scorsese Wants Leonardo DiCaprio to Play Frank Sinatra in New Biopic

Simpson died on April 10, 2024, at the age of 76, following his battle with cancer. The film is now set to be released in 2025.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!