Just a few hours before John Cusack hit the airwaves voicing his opposition to presidential candidate John McCain, the star of this summer's "War, Inc." called SheKnows for a one-on-one chat about his life on film.
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A scandalously super 'War'SK: I like to describe "War, Inc." as a political satire mirroring "MASH." Do you think that captures it?
John Cusack: Hey, look, if you want to compare our little movie to a Robert Altman film, I'll take it. It's funny you mention that because Altman did inspire us in a way. I was lucky enough to meet him and work with him before he passed away. I asked him about "MASH." He said he wanted it to be as tasteless as the war was obscene. In that sense, he just kept pushing it farther. For the day, it was radical and still is. In our weird incendiary cartoon, Marx Brothers (laughs), Telemundo soap opera, black comedy, whatever Jeremy and I wrote, we wanted to push that as far as we could go. Whenever we felt we had gone too far, we tried to go further.
SK: Like the dancing soldiers taking you underground at the Popeye's.
John Cusack: That very uncomfortable place where your laughter is a release. Maybe you'll laugh, maybe you'll groan, and maybe you'll think. Maybe you'll sort of wince, who knows? That's up to the audience. I think absurdity and satire is really taking the current trends to their logical conclusions. And some people who don't like the movie, they think it's tasteless. It's five years too early, five years too late. The one thing that they don't mention is the people who have actually been over to Iraq and written about it, they think it's dead on. We did our best.
Cusack and Cusack: children of ChicagoSK: One of my favorite films is "Eight Men Out." Growing up in Chicago, was that a proud moment for you?
John Cusack: Wow, yes. I grew up watching the Cubs and the White Sox, leaning a little more to the Cubs. I was a Chicago guy and loved them both. To be part of the White Sox history was pretty special.
SK: And as a budding actor, to work with filmmaker John Sayles…
John Cusack: He's such an American legend. I'm so proud to have worked with him. It was pretty amazing to be in that movie.
SK: Since you began, you have refused to be pigeon holed, and I'm curious about the creative process. Do you go after scripts or do these career defining scripts find you or is it a combination?
John Cusack: It's a combo. You're always searching and scratching for things. Something happens out of the blue, somebody likes you and the stars align. Sometimes you try for things. It's a combination.
SK: Finally, I spoke to your sister Joan last week and she said that as a performer the best you can be is when you are relaxed. She feels that way on a set with you at all times. From your perspective, what does Joan bring to a set for you?
John Cusack: When she's done the movies that I've done, usually I produced a lot of those movies. So, I'm one of the filmmakers. For me, I just know it's an answer. I know she's going to come in and those scenes will be people's favorite in the movie. I don't have to worry about anything. I just have to make sure I get run over by her with some dignity. (laughs) She's going to run me over and she's going to be the funniest person on screen. She's my Michael Jordan. She's unstoppable.