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John Cusack Biography

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John Cusack
John Cusack
Evanston, Illinois

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John Cusack Biography

John Cusack is, like most of his characters, an unconventional hero. Wary of fame and repelled by formulaic Hollywood fare, the Chicago-born actor has built a successful career playing underdogs and odd men out--all the while avoiding the media spotlight. With the exception of mom Nancy (a former math teacher), the Cusack clan is all show business: father Dick Cusack is an actor and filmmaker, and John's siblings Joan Cusack, Ann Cusack, Bill Cusack and Susie Cusack are all thespians by trade. Like his brother and sisters, John became a member of Chicago's Piven Theatre Workshop while he was still in elementary school. By age 12, he already had several stage productions, commercial voice overs and industrial films under his belt. He made his feature film debut at 17, acting alongside Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy in the romantic comedy Class (1983). His next role, as a member of Anthony Michael Hall's geek brigade in Sixteen Candles (1984), put him on track to becoming a teen-flick fixture. Cusack remained on the periphery of the Brat Pack, sidestepping the meteoric rise and fall of most of his contemporaries, but he stayed busy with leads in films like The Sure Thing (1985) and Better Off Dead... (1985). Young Cusack is probably best remembered for what could be considered his last adolescent role: the stereo-blaring romantic Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything... (1989). A year later, he hit theaters as a grown-up, playing a bush-league con man caught between his manipulative mother and headstrong girlfriend in The Grifters (1990).

The next few years were relatively quiet for the actor, but he filled in the gaps with off-screen projects. He directed and produced several shows for the Chicago-based theater group The New Criminals, which he founded in 1988 (modeling it after Tim Robbins' Actors' Gang in Los Angeles) to promote political and avant-garde stage work. Four years later, Cusack's high school friends Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis joined him in starting a sister company for film, New Crime Productions. New Crime's first feature was the sharply written comedy Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), which touched off a career renaissance for Cusack. In addition to co-scripting, he starred as a world-weary hit man who goes home for his ten-year high school reunion and tries to rekindle a romance with the girl he stood up on prom night (Minnie Driver). In an instance of life imitating art, Cusack actually did go home for his ten-year reunion (to honor a bet about the film's financing) and ended up in a real-life romance with Driver. Cusack's next appearance was as a federal agent (or, as he described it, "the first post-Heston, non-biblical action star in sandals") in Con Air (1997), a movie he chose because he felt it was time to make smart business decisions. He followed that with Clint Eastwood's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), in which he played a Yankee reporter entangled in a Savannah murder case.

Cusack has always favored offbeat material, so it was no surprise when he turned up in the fiercely original Being John Malkovich (1999). Long-haired, bearded and bespectacled, he was almost unrecognizable in the role of a frustrated puppeteer who stumbles across a portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich. The convincing performance won him a Best Actor nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards. In 2000, Cusack was back to his clean-shaven self in High Fidelity (2000), another New Crime production. He worked with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis to adapt Nick Hornby's popular novel (relocating the story to their native Chicago), then starred as the sarcastic record store owner who revisits his "Top 5" breakups to find out why he's so unlucky in love. The real Cusack has been romantically linked with several celebs, including Driver, Alison Eastwood, Claire Forlani and Neve Campbell. He's also something of a family man, acting frequently opposite sister Joan Cusack and pulling other Cusacks into his films on a regular basis. He seems pleased with the spate of projects on his horizon, but admits that he still hasn't reached his ultimate goal: to be involved in a "great piece of art".


John Cusack Trivia

Brother of Joan Cusack, Ann Cusack, Susie Cusack and Bill Cusack. Son of Dick Cusack (actor, documentary filmmaker) and Nancy Cusack (teacher).

Last name is pronounced Q-sack.

Has a production company called New Crime Productions (that produced Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and The Jack Bull (1999) (TV) among various stage productions) which he founded with two of his high school buddies Steve Pink & D.V. DeVincentis.

Education: Piven Theatre Workshop (Evanston, Illinois), run by the parents of actor Jeremy Piven. One semester at NYU.

Attended Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Ill.

Turned down Woody Harrelson's role in Indecent Proposal (1993).

Dated Neve Campbell. [2001]

Dated Lili Taylor.

Dated Alison Eastwood.

Dated Claire Forlani.

Dated Minnie Driver.

Turned down Bill Paxton's role in Apollo 13 (1995).

Close friends with actor Jeremy Piven. They have done 10 movies together: One Crazy Summer (1986), Elvis Stories (1989), Say Anything... (1989), The Player (1992), Floundering (1994), The Grifters (1990), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Serendipity (2001) and Runaway Jury (2003).

Is the product of a passionately liberal Irish Catholic family, visited the radical Berrigan brothers when he was growing up, and, like them, his mother still gets arrested for her anti-militarism and pro- human rights protests.

On free time likes to go "Helecopter Snowboarding" and kickboxing with stunt cordinator Benny Urquidez.

Tested for the role of Madmartigan in Willow (1988) but lost to Val Kilmer.

Is the subject of the song "Honorable Mention" by the band Fall Out Boy.

The novel "Love In The Time Of Cholera" by author Gabriel Garcia Marquez is prominently referenced in two John Cusack movies (High Fidelity (2000) and Serendipity (2001).

Sister Joan Cusack appeared in 8 of his movies:Class (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984), Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), Broadcast News (1987), Say Anything... (1989), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Cradle Will Rock (1999) and High Fidelity (2000).

Was originally set to play Walter Eberhart in the _Stepford Wives, The (2004)_ . Due to conflicts, he had to drop out and Matthew Broderick got the role.

Was once roommates with Jeremy Piven

Attended a theatre school in Chicago with sisters Joan Cusack and Ann Cusack. The theatre school was run by the parents of his best friend, Jeremy Piven

Irish-American.

His favorite group is the punk rock band, The Clash. He is also a big fan of The Specials and Elvis Costello.

Ranked #15 on Tropopkin's Top 25 Most Intriguing People [Issue #100]

Die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.

Some kind of reference to his favorite bands (usually The Clash, The Ramones or The Specials) makes at least one appearance in most of his films. Most of the time, he wears a t-shirt of one of the bands (Say Anything... (1989), High Fidelity (2000), Must Love Dogs (2005), etc), but sometimes (Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)) he works in a poster of one of the bands. These bands are typically in the soundtracks to his New Criminal's productions as well.

Member of the "Brat Pack", the name for the actors who tended to star in teen movies of the 80's. Others include Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Demi Moore, Charlie Sheen and Diane Lane.

Most famous member of the Cusack family.

He and his good friend Tim Robbins made 6 movies together: Bob Roberts (1992), Cradle Will Rock (1999), High Fidelity (2000), The Player (1992), The Sure Thing (1985) and Tapeheads (1988)

Was, for a long time, attached to play the role of "Nite Owl" in the doomed movie adaptation of Alan Moore's comic-book mini-series, Watchmen (2008).

Was originally the actor chosen to play John Bender in the The Breakfast Club (1985). At the last minute, things changed and Judd Nelson ended up in the role.

Was good friends with Hunter S. Thompson and nearly got to play him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).

Was considered for the role of "Paul Brenner" in The General's Daughter (1999), but was deemed too young at the time, so the role went to John Travolta instead.

His performance as "Lloyd Dobler" in Say Anything... (1989) is ranked #72 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.

Apocalypse Now (1979) is one of his favorite films.

During the famous "boom box serenade" scene in Say Anything... (1989), he is actually playing his favorite Fishbone tape on the boom box, while Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is played in the movie. (source: Cameron Crowe commentary on the DVD).

Growing up John and his siblings often put on plays at their home. He has mentioned that his older sister Ann once staged a production of "Cinderella" in their living room in which she played Cinderella, sister Joan played the Ugly Stepsister, brother Bill played Prince Charming and John played the dog.

Considers the scripts to Max (2002/I) and Being John Malkovich (1999) the best he has read.




 
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