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Cuba Gooding Jr, Sean Penn - novelist, Love, Simon - a teen rom-com with a twist

Cuba Gooding Jr talks about starring in Chicago in the West End and his role in Boyz n the Hood, his Oscar for Jerry Maguire and Hollywood's changing attitude to black actors.

Cuba Gooding Jr is taking to the stage in the new West End production of one of the world's most successful musicals - Chicago. He talks to Stig Abell about his role as the lawyer Billy Flynn and his career; starring in Boyz n the Hood, playing OJ Simpson, the impact of winning an Oscar for Jerry Maguire, and how Hollywood is changing its attitude to black actors.

Bob Honey who Just Do Stuff is a new novel. Its author is Sean Penn. He's not the only film star to feel, after coming to fame reciting other people's words, the urge to write stories of their own. Tom Hanks has published a collection of short stories, James Franco, Lauren Graham and Pamela Anderson have all written novels. Ethan Hawke has three to his name. Cathy Rentzenbrink of The Bookseller discusses this phenomenon, what these books reveal and whether they, Penn's in particular, are any good.

Love, Simon is a new American High School coming of movie but with a twist - Simon is struggling with coming out as gay rather than finding a date for Prom. Tim Robey considers if this film marks a breakthrough moment for mainstream cinema.

In February on Front Row we heard from two women - Louise Allen and Maude Julien - who'd written books about being severely abused in their childhood and teens by the adults responsible for their care, and how art and literature provided a lifeline for them. We joined them when they met, for the first time, a few days ago.

Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated 50 years ago today. Maya Angelou, who worked with him, would, had she lived, be 90 today. We hear her read a poem she wrote for him.

Presenter: Stig Abell
Producer: Julian May.

Available now

30 minutes


  • Cuba Gooding Jr

    Duration: 09:48

  • Actors' novels

    Duration: 06:05

  • Maude Julien and Louise Allen

    Duration: 05:10

  • Love, Simon

    Duration: 04:44

  • Maya Angelou

    Duration: 01:18

Cuba Gooding Jr in Chicago

Cuba Gooding Jr in Chicago
Cuba Gooding Jr

Cuba Gooding stars in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre, London 

Main image: Cuba Gooding Jr
Photo credit: Robert Ascroft

Love, Simon

Love, Simon
Nick Robinson and
Katherine Langford
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Love, Simon is on general release, cert 12A

Art as a Lifeline

Art as a Lifeline

Maude Julien (l) and Louise Allen, meeting for the first time

Maude Julien’s book The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir, and Thrown Away Child by Louise Allen are available now.

And you can hear them talking about their lives and their books on Front Row here


Role Contributor
Presenter Stig Abell
Interviewed Guest Cuba Gooding Jr
Interviewed Guest Cathy Rentzenbrink
Interviewed Guest Tim Robey
Interviewed Guest Louise Allen
Interviewed Guest Maude Julien
Performer Maya Angelou
Producer Julian May


  • Wed 4 Apr 2018 19:15



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