In a wide-ranging chat, the celebrated film star discusses his excellent biopic on Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, psychedelics, and why President Obama has let him down.
"I just say what I think, and if people don't like it, that's OK."
John Cusack has, at 48, lost interest in playing the part off-camera. He has no desire to pander to you, the moviegoing public, or the celebrity industrial complex. He recently called Hollywood "a whorehouse," and has followed in the footsteps of his mom, embracing political activism via Huffington Post blogs and sitting on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He realizes that, by now, with a rich body of work that includes teen dramas (Sixteen Candles, Say Anything…), quirky comedies (Bullets over Broadway, Grosse Pointe Blank), and whatever you'd call Con Air, you've made up your mind one way or the other.
And yet, in the new film Love & Mercy, Cusack will surprise you.
Directed by Bill Pohlad, the film chronicles the life of legendary Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, tracing his path through two distinct periods of his life: the 1960s, during the making of the band's finest album, Pet Sounds, and the 1980s, as he attempts to escape the clutches of Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), an overbearing psychotherapist. Paul Dano plays young Wilson, while the older version is portrayed by Cusack, who vividly captures the musician's descent into madness and codependency—that is, until he's saved by the love of Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks). Jumping back and forth between two parallel narratives, it's a subversive and thrillingly unique take on the well-worn music biopic.
The Daily Beast spoke to John Cusack to discuss not only the impressive film, but also everything from his thoughts on President Obama to those Breaking Bad rumors.
One thing I do admire about you is you don't have a filter, and are outspoken about the issues of the day. A lot of celebrities pussyfoot around when it comes to even talking about current events.
No, I don't care about any of that shit. All those people are just full of hot air and networking and stuff. If you're speaking out about basic Rubicon lines that should or shouldn't be crossed, if you can't be against state-sanctioned murder being made acceptable or economic policy, making the difference between language and meaning so absurd that Orwell and Kafka laugh, these are not heavy-duty things, these are just basic, Cartesian things. They're common sense, and were debated constitutionally a long time ago.