John Cusack Interview
John Cusack Interview
Did they cut anything out that you really hated to lose?

John Cusack

I haven’t seen the final version of it but I don’t think so. It was pretty tight.
I enjoyed your performance of the poem itself. You could have a career reading audiobooks of Poe’s poetry if you wanted one ...

John Cusack

It was funny because in real life, he was really good at those readings, and he would have these sort of séances and they were at night and were with all of these beautiful women. And he sort of set it up and I saw the shooting schedule was sort of day/morning and he [McTeigue, director] was like, “No, no, man, we’ll do it like you’re hungover ...” It was a little sad because he was sort of running on the fumes of The Raven, he was a little tired of doing it. But I would have loved to have done the séance version. He used to go to people’s homes and dim the lights and put out incense and just freak people out - it was like he was just on the circuit trying to get some food money. But it was sort of his version of the endless press junket.
Do you have a favourite poem of Poe’s? Or one that really meant a lot to you and provided you with the clue to how to play him?

John Cusack

There was so much stuff that I wouldn’t really know where to begin. I like it all.
Was the biographical stuff more important than the poetry?

John Cusack

No, I liked the actual stories and poems. That spoke to me more - turns of phrases and imagery and symbols.
Was that an authentic Poe beard?

John Cusack

I think there was a period where he did have that and then he was clean-shaven. McTeigue and I just thought that the moustache was a little too Charlie Chaplin and a little too sort of like a Halloween mask of Poe. I said it was a little like Elvis meets Colonel Tom Parker meets Colonel Sanders! It was kind of a Kentucky Fried Poe. It was Colonel Sanders meets Johnny Cash.
Were there any moments where you thought, ‘This man’s a genius’ and I’m just not up to it?

John Cusack

No and I don’t know what that means about me, if it means I’m an egomaniac. It was like being on a bender in a weird way. It had the feeling of some sort of run and I’ve felt that before.
Do you have your own theory about Poe’s death?

John Cusack

Yeah, I think it was probably the voting [a popular theory is that Poe was paid to falsify votes by voting multiple times in different districts, whereby he spent the money on alcohol and drank himself to death; this accounts for him being found in someone else's clothes]. I think he was on a bender. That makes the most sense to me.
You’ve been quoted as saying you’re searching for the most perfect piece of art. Do you feel you’ve approached that with this film?

John Cusack

Oh I don’t know. I think this has got a pulse though. I think it’s got good things in it. When I did it, I thought, 'This might be good.’
Is there any pressure from fans of Poe?

John Cusack

No. I sort of play against myself a little bit. I keep pressure on myself. I’m not worried if somebody in Sweden doesn’t like my Poe. [Laughs] I’ll find out. But I kept asking myself whether I’d gone into the places that he had described in my own weird way as much as I could.
The whole film is like a nightmare that gets worse ...

John Cusack

But I thought that was like a journey into the underworld artistically and that was kind of exciting, but I don’t want to stay down there and I’m glad I’m out of it. But I thought it was a good artistic journey for an actor or an artist.
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Content updated: 25/08/2019 18:08

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