Cusack discusses career, upcoming movie

by Jazmine Ponce
Arts & Entertainment Editor

John Cusack, an established actor from such films as “The Grifters,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Grosse Pointe Blank” and such 80’s generational films as “Better Off Dead,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Say Anything” sat down for an interview at the Century City Hotel to promote his new movie “High Fidelity” opening today.

“High Fidelity” revolves around the love life of music aficionado Rob Gordon, who recently broke up with a long time girlfriend. In the film, Gordon explores his top five break ups. As well as starring in the film, he co-produced and co-wrote the screenplay with close friends Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincetis.

Throughout the film Gordon and his fellow music fiends Dick and Barry constantly make “top five” lists. Cusack when asked what his top five bands were, said, “I don’t make list, believe it or not I totally revert from character.” Though he does name The Clash and Nirvana as two of his all time favorite groups.

The movie, based on Nick Hornby’s cult novel, is originally set in England. Yet, when Cusack read the book to adapt it he realized the novel was universal and could be filmed in his hometown of Chicago, Ill.

“I read it and I knew all the places in Chicago. I knew the record shop, I knew those guys. And the most interesting thing about the book is all the stuff about men, sort of interworking of their minds,” he said.

The film marks Cusack’s eighth with his sister Joan Cusack (“Runaway Bride,” “Cradle Will Rock”). He finds working with his sister is entertaining and easy.

“It is fun. She is just a great actress. So much of acting is like developing a short hand with someone. So, if you know people, it is like you can skip the process and just go to the fun,” said Cusack.

Cusack, whose first venture into producing was the cult favorite “Grosse Pointe Blank,” plans to write a sequel.

“I just have to write it. Maybe he will be (character Martin Blank) CEO of some bio-tech or dot com internet company.”

He is well known for his teen generational films of the ’80s and considered a movie icon by fans is not fazed by the attention he gets from ’80s film.

“Well all I can say is [that] it is on film,” said Cusack.

As a cult film character, almost every Cusack fan seems to love is Lane Meyer from “Better Off Dead.”

“People love that movie and I don’t understand it,” he said.

Though he is not fazed by the admiration he receives, he does enjoy watching his movies with real audience.

“I like to see them play in front of a live house. Not like critics or industry types but I like to sort of see it with people who like movies and want to go have a good time and are not going to be like Rob, Dick and Barry and be above it all. I like watching that because that is sort of what you do it for is to see it play,” he said.

In “High Fidelity,” the relationships of men and including the ups and down are heavily expressed. To Cusack, the film and novel are universal and easy for men to relate to. He also can find correlations in this movie to his own life.

“I think the thing about the book that is so cool, and hopefully in the film, is that he is telling to you some universal truths about men and their relationships to women and themselves. I think every guy can relate to the fact that they might be with a girl they really like, and they might be with a girl they love, but still after a while they just become a girl.

“Somehow that is just shattering to our fragile male egos. We want that first rush we had when you just get with someone. We keep chasing that dragon and sooner or later you get older and you realize that it is not a real good look when you are like the 45-year-old guy in a club trying to get a date and it al starts to get sad, and you realize you are playing with real bullets. When you get to be 33 it is not to far down the road,” said Cusack.

In all of the films he has done he does not have a favorite character but likes the ones from his recent films.”

“If I do one that just worked out recently that seems to be my favorite because it is fresh. I liked Schwartz in ‘Malkovich’ and I like Rob. I think if the film works, then the characters make sense,” said Cusack.

In the film, Cusack’s character goes through comedic emotional turmoil, but always seems to strive though his troubles with honesty, which is one of the qualities he likes.

“I think his honesty, and somewhere after all is said and done, he has this capacity to be really sort of honest about the way things are and what he really feels. There is a part of him that after he is done bitching and whining, moaning, dragging his feet he looks at things in a hard way. There is a certain courage to that, so that is pretty cool as a character. I think most people are like that, in some ways you are a coward and in some ways you are really brave and they sort of shift back and forth, depending on how their emotions take over,” said Cusack.

One of his favorite parts of the movie was being able to work with Jack Black (“Cable Guy,” “Cradle Will Rock”) and Todd Louiso. One of his favorite scenes in the film is when Rob realizes his fantasy woman is just that, a fantasy.

“I like all the actors. I think they are all so cool. I like I all the stuff with me Jack and Todd. I particularly like the scene where Rob comes back and he has created this ‘Vietnam’ of this girl because sometimes we do that too. They are not real. We just create these fantasies with these women,” said Cusack.

One of the troubles Cusack said he had while adapting the film was the emotional and comical narratives by Rob in the novel. In the film, Rob performs inner monologues, where he speaks directly into the camera, which often worried Cusack at times.

“The thing that was cool about that[the monologues] was that whenever he did it he was in the most painful truth he could find. I would say ‘look’ if I am going to do it…he has got to hurt, because that is the only way it is going to keep focus.

“If you are doing it to move the story forward, you are screwed. The stuff that is so great on the book is all those interior monologues are so kind of brutally honest. I kept looking for devices to get all the material in. You cannot just get them in conversation, I didn’t want to voice over, so finally we thought maybe he should just bust it out and start looking at the camera and confessing. I was worried about doing it when I started,” said Cusack.

For Cusack, great things are considered great over time. With the extensive amount of fans Cusack has and the ability to attract films with universal characters Cusack is one of those actors that will almost always be considered good.

“Something is good if it is good like three years from now. Some of the films that I have done I thought were good, they still are. People still remember them they still sort of have a place in people’s mind or hearts,” said Cusack.

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