John Cusack

John Cusack in The Raven

John Cusack in “The Raven”

When John Cusack is at the top of his game, he has that rare ability to seem as if we’ve always known him, and that we’ve known him well – like when he openly addresses the camera in “High Fidelity,” or the countless times he’s put himself out there in the romantic comedies that have become a Cusack staple. An intensely private man, he is a Chicagoan to the bone, and peppers his performances with personal references to the Cubs and favorite bands like The Clash. He often collaborates with family members such as sister Joan and friend Jeremy Piven, whose parents ran the Piven Theatre Workshop where John studied in Chicago.

In the 80s, John was a bonafide teen star – hanging around the Brat Pack crowd before closing the decade with “Say Anything,” the movie that crowned him as the American Prince of the Romantic Comedy. The 90s saw John appear in 22 pictures, mostly ensemble pieces from directors like Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, and Terrence Malick. John also dabbled in the action blockbuster with “Con Air” in 1997 and closed the decade with another career-defining performance as the grizzly puppeteer in “Being John Malkovich.”

With “High Fidelity,” John entered the new millennium with a return to the romantic comedies that marked his early career. In between light fluff like “Serendipity” and “Must Love Dogs,” John continues to explore challenging roles in dark pieces such as “Max” and “1408.” And in a body of work amounting to over 50 movies, some of them diverse risks without much box office appeal, we always feel a sense of familiarity with John Cusack. As if we’ve always known him, yes, but maybe a sense of familiarity because he’s just like us. And John, in turn, has never forgotten where he came from.

Check out our interviews with for “War, Inc.” and “The Raven.”

John on the Screen

In the 80s, John was pegged first as the ubiquitous teen in comedies, then as the go-to romantic lead. The Rob Lowe vehicle “Class” was John’s film debut, and “Sixteen Candles” his second. 1985 brought him his first lead roles with “The Sure Thing” and “Better Off Dead.” He’s Buck Weaver in the Chicago period piece “Eight Men Out” and Lloyd Dobler in the classic “Say Anything.” “The Grifters” saw a new John Cusack: a conman in a dramatic thriller. He gets to play the Woody Allen role in “Bullets Over Broadway,” Deputy Mayor Kevin Calhoun servicing Mayor Al Pacino in “City Hall,” and the assassin Martin Q. Blank in “Grosse Pointe Blank,” teaming with Jeremy Piven and Minnie Driver. He closed the 90s as puppeteer Craig Schwartz in “Being John Malkovich,” which Cusack claims is one of the best scripts he ever read. Recently, he’s returned to romantic comedies like “High Fidelity” and “Serendipity,” along with proving that he’s down for just about anything in “Hot Tub Time Machine.”

John Says

On the 80s:
“I was a teen star. That’s disgusting enough.”

On fame:
“Celebrity is death – celebrity – the worst thing that can happen to an actor.”

On “Con Air”:
“I was the first post-Heston non-biblical action star in sandals.”