John Cusack, at world’s end

John Cusack, at world’s end
Thursday, 05 November 2009 17:01

The acclaimed actor gets back into blockbuster mode for the end-times spectacle 2012, and dwells on the frightening Mayan Prophecies people are obsessing about.
John Cusack (Con Air, High Fidelity, 1408) stars in Columbia Pictures’ new disaster epic 2012 as Jackson Curtis, a civilian who stumbles into the news that the world as we know it is coming to an end. v Jackson, however, is not a picture-perfect family man.
A failed author, Jackson works as a limousine driver by day, as he watches his children bond with his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. “He tried to keep his life together,” Cusack explains. But it was something else about the script that lured the actor in. “It’s kind of an unusual, funny script. I don’t know if I thought the end of the world could be fun, but this movie has a gallows humor to it that I found pretty interesting.”
Do you think people are going to get paranoid about seeing a film about the end of the world?
I don’t know, maybe. I think a lot of people are already kind of obsessed with the Mayan Prophecies. There’s a real fascination for that kind of thing. I know when I first read about Nostradamus it hooked me. Who doesn’t want to read that—it’s endlessly fascinating, right? It just trips you out. It’s great. No matter if you want to believe it or you think it’s all crackpot stuff, I think it’s undeniably compelling. Or if you even read prophecies, like The Book of Revelations, just the imagery and the poetry of it is so intense. And if you’re raised a Catholic, too, you’re raised with that in your consciousness, too.
You don’t make a lot of these huge movies. Why did you choose this one?
It sort of chose me, I was just at home doing my thing and I get a call saying Roland (Emmerich, the director and cowriter) wants you to do this movie. I met him, and it was a big movie for Sony Pictures and I read the script and it was actually very well-written and surprising in lots of ways. It wasn’t like a genre disaster movie, it was very different to what I expected, and so it was a kind of easy choice for me.
Has working on 2012 changed your mind about working on other big, blockbuster films?
Yeah...well, it didn’t change my mind about it as much as if you can work on a movie that’s like this, which is kind of an A movie all the way around, then great. Roland casts actors to do this stuff, whereas usually actors who do more of the action genre would get in other studio films like this. Roland casts actors that he likes, and what was remarkable about the script was that there are all these very human stories. Like, page after page, these things would happen and it would then say, “and Rome fell....” Page after page, these amazing things would happen and you would think, “I have no idea how he would even approach shooting that.” As a filmmaker, I just go, “Well, how do you shoot that? Where do you put the camera, how does one do that?” There were things that I’ve never seen even attempted on film—the scale of it was incredible. And I did think, “Well, will you have time for the acting?” And he most certainly did. A lot of attention was paid to that all the way through the shoot. Actually the script was all about these very simple, family things, and Roland was very focused on telling that story with all of this other, amazing stuff happening as well.
So it’s still about the story as much as the effects?
Yes, very much so. It was amazing. So he would do all this big stuff and then he would totally focus on every character. I’ve done other films where (the acting) is an absolute afterthought. But I think that has to do with Roland being at that place in his life where he’s earned the right to work in a way that is optimum for him and for actors. And it was extraordinary to see—he has all this stuff in his brain and he is somehow able to put that up on the screen, and that alone would be enough to drive most people insane. (Laughs) But he does that and has time for the actors and that’s very unique, I think.
One of the moral dilemmas in the film is whether the public should be told about the impending disaster. What’s your view?
I was always geared toward telling the truth. But yeah, I think they should. Shouldn’t people have the right to know and to be able to do what they want with their last remaining days? I think that would be right.
So are you still planning a holiday for 2013, or are you a little concerned that the Mayan Prophecies might be true?
(Laughs) No, I don’t think the world will end. I think maybe it will just be a change in consciousness in 2012. I think there will be a big shift in consciousness. That’s probably what I think will happen. Either that or it really will be the end. (Laughs) I obviously hope it’s not.
If you had to save a favorite band, who would it be?
That’s a really good question. I’d say Bob Dylan. I’d ask Bob Dylan on the boat. He would get to come on the spaceship.
If you knew that you were going to die, and somebody is going to be saved, what would be the best advice you could give that person?
Bring some sunblock? I don’t know. (Laughs) Eat sensible foods in the new world, diet and exercise.
And what things wouldn’t you be too sorry about seeing destroyed?
I would destroy a lot of the news organizations—I would blow them up! (Laughs) I think Reality TV, although I haven’t watched much of it, but what I’ve watched of it, I think I’d blow that up. A few of the studios (laughs)—but not Sony. Independent Spirit Award Shows, award shows, I’d blow up award shows....
Even if you won an Oscar?
Yeah. Blow it up! (Laughs) Yeah. Absolutely. That’s a good question. That’s got me really going. Yeah, I think CNN, whenever any celebrity dies, I’d just blow them up and just have them rebuild the network, so you can’t have like the Michael Jackson death channel on for three weeks (laughs) while there’s like two wars going on. (Laughs) Fox news would go, too—that goes without saying.
There must have been quite a lot of physical challenges on this shoot.
It was really kind of a nice shoot, there were such great professionals and so amazing to work with, and so it was really nice for me. Doing all the underwater stuff was pretty intense, and then some of the physical stuff was, too. There were a couple of times, like when they have you on a conveyor belt—one of those runner things when your character is running away from some impending disaster—and you’ve done it a couple of times and then you’d have to say, “You understand that we can do this like, four, five, six times more and that’s fine. But if we have to do this 15 more times I’m going to pull a hamstring and I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. So you do understand that will be your choice?” (Laughs)
So when you do an action movie, you have to like let everyone know what’s about to happen. Say, jump over that fence and tumble—I’ll do it like 10 times. And if I do it 30 times, that might be too much—so you have to negotiate. (Laughs) That’s the same on any action film because they want to get so much coverage—but there’s only so much my hamstrings can take!
2012 is epic and provides a big cinematic experience. But you’ve done lots of smaller films throughout your career that have had a big effect on people. Is that the intention, to balance the two?
Hopefully, I’ve made some films that have made people kind of read things when they’ve seen the movie we made of the book, made people feel like they weren’t alone, whatever—stories or films do help people, some of them have been nice enough to say so.
Opening across the Philippines on November 13, 2012 is distributed by Columbia Pictures.


Shanghai(2009) (pre-production) (in negotiations)
The Factory (2009) (filming)
Igor (2008) (post-production) (voice) .... Igor
Summerhood (2008) (post-production)
(uncredited) .... Narrator
War, Inc. (2008) (completed) .... Brand Hauser
Martian Child (2007) .... David
1408 (2007) .... Mike Enslin
Grace Is Gone (2007) .... Stanley Philipps
The Contract (2006/I) .... Ray Keene
The Ice Harvest: Alternate Endings (2006) (V) .... Charlie
The Ice Harvest (2005) .... Charlie
Must Love Dogs (2005) .... Jake
Runaway Jury (2003) .... Nicholas Easter
Identity (2003) .... Ed
Max (2002/I) .... Max Rothman
Serendipity (2001) .... Jonathan Trager
America's Sweethearts (2001) .... Eddie Thomas
High Fidelity(2000) .... Rob Gordon
Being John Malkovich (1999) .... Craig Schwartz
Cradle Will Rock (1999) .... Nelson Rockefeller
Pushing Tin (1999) .... Nick Falzone
The Jack Bull (1999) (TV) .... Myrl Redding
The Thin Red Line (1998) .... Capt. Gaff
This Is My Father (1998/I) .... Eddie Sharp, the Pilot
Chicago Cab (1998) .... Scary Man
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) .... John Kelso
Anastasia (1997) (voice) .... Dimitri
Con Air (1997) .... U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) .... Martin Q. Blank
"Frasier" .... Greg (1 episode, 1996)
- Our Father Whose Art Ain't Heaven (1996) TV episode (voice) .... Greg
City Hall (1996) .... Deputy Mayor Kevin Calhoun
The Road to Wellville (1994) .... Charles Ossining
Bullets Over Broadway (1994) .... David Shayne
Floundering (1994) .... JC
Money for Nothing (1993) .... Joey Coyle
Map of the Human Heart(1993) .... The Mapmaker
Bob Roberts (1992) .... Cutting Edge Host
Roadside Prophets (1992) (as John Cusak) .... Casper
Shadows and Fog(1992) .... Student Jack
True Colors(1991) .... Peter Burton
The Grifters(1990) .... Roy Dillon
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) .... Michael Merriman
Say Anything... (1989) .... Lloyd Dobler
Elvis Stories (1989) .... Corky
Tapeheads (1988) .... Ivan Alexeev
Eight Men Out (1988) .... George 'Buck' Weaver
Broadcast News (1987) (as John Cusak) .... Angry Messenger
Hot Pursuit (1987) .... Dan Bartlett
One Crazy Summer (1986) .... Hoops McCann
Stand by Me (1986) .... Denny Lachance
The Journey of Natty Gann (1985) .... Harry
Better Off Dead... (1985) .... Lane Meyer
The Sure Thing (1985) .... Walter (Gib) Gibson
Grandview, U.S.A. (1984) .... Johnny Maine
Sixteen Candles (1984) .... Bryce
Class(1983) .... Roscoe Maibaum