Exclusive: Director Jake Goldberger Talks Collaborating With Cuba Gooding Jr. on ‘Life of a King’


The Source Magazine sat down with Director Jake Goldberger, where he talked about collaborating with Cuba Gooding Jr. on his latest film ‘Life of a King’.


What inspired you to direct this movie?

You know for me it was really about Eugene brown himself. This man’s story was really inspiring to me,  that he was making a difference using chess, I thought it was a very inspiring story.
Did you meet the real Eugene Brown? Did he have any input?


I spoke to Eugene many times over the phone, however we didn’t meet in person until we were shooting the movie.  It took us 10 years to make the movie so he and I would have conversations over the year and sure he had input over the movie for him. I just wanted to make sure the movie was making sense on a narrative level.  I would call him and he would call me and he would tell me stories and I would get inspirations from the story


What was the overall message you were trying to get across with this film?


For me it was that one man can really make a difference…it doesn’t matter what economic background you come from you can be something and somebody and that’s Eugene’s whole platform. It’s really inspiring and the kids he’s working with really love him and get a lot from him.


I understand that the film was shot in a very short time frame, can you elaborate on that?

We shot in 15 days and 15 days is incredibly short…for us we had a gazillion locations, we had chess tournaments, multiple chess tournaments, school, jail, exteriors, my cinematographer and I went to Washington DC just to shoot the exteriors. We had to be really careful of the palm tree because when you are shooting a movie in Los Angeles and trying to make it seem like it’s somewhere else, you have to be so conscious of the palm trees and it’s not just the palm trees it’s the palm tree reflections, but yeah we shot the entire movie in 15 days and I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think we could.


How was it working with Cuba Gooding Jr.?


Cuba is just amazing. When you’re shooting a movie on this schedule, if the main actor is a jerk you’re in trouble. Cuba came on. He was a pro from day one. He was very helpful with the kids, the actors and he knew that they looked up to him. He was still great with them and some actors in his position wouldn’t act as professional as he did. It couldn’t have been done without Cuba. I loved working with him. Hopefully we get a chance to work with each other again sooner than later, he is such a good actor. When you’re working with someone like Cuba as a director sometimes you forget to say cut because you are so into Cuba Gooding Jr’s acting and he’s just getting to you emotionally.


-Jasmine Clarke 


Videography Credit: Paul Obrochta