David Schwimmer on Robert Kardashian: He ‘Never Recovered After That Trial’

The legacy of the infamous O.J. Simpson trial has lingered well into the more than 20 years since he was found innocent in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson — and, according to David Schwimmer, it had a particularly damaging effect on Simpson’s longtime friendship with Robert Kardashian.

Schwimmer, who plays Kardashian in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, recently opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about how the trial ultimately led to the unraveling of the pair’s relationship — and much more, he argued.

David Schwimmer
David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian on THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY. Byron Cohen/FX

“I think it changed him profoundly in probably every way,” Schwimmer, 49, said of Kardashian’s involvement with the case. “This is just my guess, but he never really recovered after that trial. His health deteriorated, it ruined the new romantic relationship he was in. It affected him profoundly. We’ll never really know, but I certainly made the choice as an actor and with the writers that the trial had a devastating effect on Robert and he’s actually kind of a tragic figure.” (The attorney and father to the now world-famous Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Rob Jr. died of esophageal cancer at age 59 in 2003.)

On the Tuesday, March 22, episode of the hit series, viewers see just how shaken Kardashian (Schwimmer) is after having to reckon with the blood evidence and the DNA that seemed to point to Simpson’s (Cuba Gooding Jr.) involvement in the murder.

He is so shaken, in fact, that he tells his ex-wife Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) that they need to cut all ties with Simpson after the court case is over.

Robert Kardashian and O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson consults with friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian in court during a hearing in 1995. Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images

“He had doubts, he had trouble with the blood evidence and the DNA and the overwhelming evidence of blood in the Bronco and the sock and on and on,” Schwimmer said. “That was troubling for him; he was never able to wrap his head around the explanations that the defense team were giving. So he had doubts of O.J.’s innocence during the trial and certainly afterward. Their friendship pretty much ended.”

The Friends alum had even spoken with the real-life Kardashian’s ex, Jenner, while researching the role, and noted the irony that the lawyer was so private, though his family is constantly in the public eye now.

David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Schwimmer and Gooding Jr. on THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY. Prashant Gupta/FX

“It is ironic that his offspring became internationally famous,” he said. “It’s also interesting that his celebrity was totally accidental and unintentional. It was inadvertently thrust into every household in America and it’s not something he pursued or even enjoyed. But who really knows? I don’t.”

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