The actors in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” felt a responsibility to portray their characters as real people—because they were. Here’s what a handful of the stars had to say during the recent TV Critics Association winter tour in Pasadena, Calif., about playing their real-life counterparts.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” debuts at 10/9c Feb. 2 on FX.

American Crime Story

Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX)

Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson

“I had no desire to visit him in his present condition, being incarcerated, being a shell of a man. … I knew that this portrayal in 1994 was a flamboyant, charismatic movie star, marquee athlete. … That braggadocious, egotistical manner in which he carried himself then is what I was looking to achieve.”

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson stars as Marcia Clark in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX Networks)

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark

“The most challenging part of it was just my own mental awareness that Marcia Clark walks the planet now, and that this is a real person I’m playing, and the responsibility of wanting to get it right.”

Related: Sarah Paulson: Marcia Clark is a hero

American Crime Story

Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX)

Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran

“I didn’t trap myself in the image of the iconic figure of Johnnie Cochran. I tried to do whatever research I could and then tried to get out of the way so the audience could get involved in the story.”

American Crime Story

John Travolta as Robert Shapiro in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX)

John Travolta as Robert Shapiro

“He is a famous character, and he is one that we remember visually, or at least a good majority of the public remember visually. So I felt a duty to certainly adhere to aspects of his physical presence.”

American Crime Story

David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX)

David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian

“The real appeal of the role was when it was presented to me as Robert being the heart and the conscience of the whole thing. He’s the only person of the key players who has nothing to gain.”

This story has been syndicated by Tribune News Service.