Did Robert Kardashian Think O.J. Simpson Was Guilty? 'American Crime Story' Shows A Crack In Their Friendship
In the March 15 episode "Conspiracy Theories," The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story will show David Schwimmer's Robert Kardashian question whether or not O.J. Simpson is guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, though he was later acquitted of both charges. So far, the FX series has portrayed Kardashian as someone offering unwavering support of Simpson. However, as the murder trial continues on the series, the evidence presented by prosecutors Marcia Clark and Chris Darden starts to make the lawyer and businessman think harder about his friend's innocence. And Kardashian's change of heart on American Crime Story is something the real-life Kardashian also experienced.
As with most every detail that is included in American Crime Story, the TV version of Kardashian's views on Simpson are based on some version of the truth. While it wasn't until after the real-life trial that Kardashian discussed his doubts about Simpson's innocence publicly, that doesn't mean that he hadn't considered it before. In an interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20 a year after Simpson was acquitted, Kardashian revealed his concerns about Simpson and his version of what happened closely matches what will be portrayed on The People v. O.J. Simpson on March 15.
While the TV series is based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, Kardashian's interview with Walters in 1996 was coordinated with the release of the book American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense by Lawrence Schiller and James Willwerth, for which Kardashian was the principle source. You can watch the fascinating Kardashian-Walters interview in two parts below.
Throughout the interview, Kardashian corroborates many of the events that are being shown in The People v. O.J. Simpson. In the second video at six minutes in, Walters specifically asks Kardashian how the DNA evidence against Simpson — like Goldman's blood being found in Simpson's Ford Bronco — affected Kardashian. The Kardashian patriarch responds, "Barbara, that was the most devastating part of the whole trial for me. I wake up in the middle of the night — I'm so conflicted because of that blood evidence. It's very difficult for me."
This direct quote very much matches the sentiment expressed by Schwimmer's Kardashian in the preview for "Conspiracy Theories" when he says, "I have trouble with the blood in the Bronco." Along with that, both the real Kardashian in his interview and the one on the series note their disbelief that the DNA was planted by the Los Angeles police department, as the defense suggested.
While I thought the series had been showing Kardashian as too naively unsuspicious of his friend of 25 years, almost every moment of Schwimmer on American Crime Story mirrors what the real Kardashian says in his 20/20 interview. Anyone who followed the real trial knows that Kardashian will stick with Simpson throughout the rest of American Crime Story, but it wasn't a known fact back in 1995 that Kardashian had started to worry about the blood evidence. That may explain why his hesitation is shown through a private moment between him and ex-wife Kris Jenner on the series.
Although Kardashian told Walters that if he were on the jury in the civil trial against Simpson that he would have to vote "not guilty" because of reasonable doubt, he confessed that he also doubted Simpson's innocence. "I have doubts," Kardashian said. "The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side. That causes me the greatest problems. So, I struggle with the blood evidence." And he said that in hindsight, he would not have gotten involved with Simpson's trial if he could do it all over again.
Kardashian passed away from esophageal cancer in 2003, so who knows how he'd feel about Simpson today. However, the religious man made it clear after the trial that he could not be certain if his friend was or wasn't capable of the murders. He told Walters that he prayed with Simpson the morning of the verdict and that, even in that moment, he was unsure of his friend's innocence saying.
"And I prayed to God. Not that this man be set free, but that 'Thy will be done.' Only you know, God, what has happened here," he said.
No one will ever really know for certain what exactly happened the night that Brown Simpson and Goldman were murdered. And yet, that doesn't stop millions of people — from those who knew Simpson to those who didn't — from making their own assumptions.
Images: Byron Cohen, Ray Mickshaw/FX