His battle ready cast
SK: The first thing that caught my eye on “War, Inc.” was the cast. You’ve worked with directors as diverse as Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood to legendary actors like Paul Newman and current stars such as Angelina Jolie. For your sharing scenes with Sir Ben, was that a rare moment for the actor who has had so many?
John Cusack: Oh, yeah. Having him in the movie is a great honor. He read the script and wanted to do it. We met him and asked what we could change. He said ‘don’t change anything, it’s great. I love this script. I want to do this script.’ We got out there and we’re in Bulgaria, and you know what? It was his idea to get into the garbage truck.
SK: Oh, you’re kidding. The Oscar-winner in the dumpster hauler…
John Cusack: (laughs) He said, ‘let’s do it.’ When you have a day where you can watch Ben Kingsley deliver some crazed monologue, he can put his tongue in your ear, and get into a fight with him in a Roman Coliseum garbage truck…that’s just a good day. That is as good as it gets for me (laughs). All the writers and I, the director, we were thinking ‘look at this craziness.’ We got Ben Kingsley, one of the great actors of modern cinema, just getting as weird and perverse and twisted as anything we could imagine.
SK: And to think that man was holding an Oscar for “Gandhi” when you first got started in Chicago. And there you are rolling around in the trash.
John Cusack: In Bulgaria, with all the kitsch remnants of pop America in that trash.
SK: Which I thought was also just brilliant, again. Bombs go off and the first thing repaired is the Coke sign. It’s subtle, but it’s not. Did I read correctly that it was based on an article by Naomi Klein?
John Cusack: It wasn’t based on one, but when we were writing it, Naomi’s article was a great inspiration to me. When we were trying to explore war profiteering and the Neo Conservative agenda, we looked to a lot of sources and Naomi was one of them. I’ve been lucky enough to be friends with her and when she wrote the wonderful piece, “Baghdad Year Zero,” for Atlantic Monthly, she sent me the piece and it inspired us to go further and further.
SK: This is a subject matter where you could certainly go quite deep.
John Cusack: You learn about the ideology behind this kind of privatization, free market perversion fantasy, horror-show that is really behind this, that there’s no part of a state, no part of the world that wouldn’t be better off if it’s privatized for profit for corporations. Not only for core functions of state, but to actually privatize the Army, privatize jail, privatize interrogations, everything is for profit. And it doesn’t matter that you’re putting human beings in the meat grinder. It doesn’t matter to these protectionist rackets, these absolute gangster protectionist rackets that you have to feed human beings into this to feed these markets. Their deluded fantasies are being fed with human beings.