Now, the talented thespian is taking the plunge into big budget sci-fi with Roland Emmerich's latest end-of-the-world epic '2012,' inspired by a Mayan prophecy that declares that humanity and the world will undergo a massive transition by Dec. 21, 2012. In Hollywood terms, that means making an apocalyptic thriller that signals doom for us all. John Cusack has certainly constructed a varied and fulfilling career in Hollywood. He's become known for a wide range of roles -- from Lloyd Dobler in romantic comedy 'Say Anything' to a U.S. Marshall in 'Con Air' to a beleaguered author in the horror thriller '1408.' It's fair to say that, given his affinity for smaller films and big budget movies, Cusack works on his own terms and stretches himself as far as possible.
Now, the talented thespian is taking the plunge into big budget sci-fi with Roland Emmerich's latest end-of-the-world epic '2012,' inspired by a Mayan prophecy that declares that humanity and the world will undergo a massive transition by Dec. 21, 2012. In Hollywood terms, that means making an apocalyptic thriller that signals doom for us all.
Overflowing with state-of-the-art special effects, nail-biting disaster sequences and dark humor, '2012' allows Cusack to inject his warmth and charisma into the role of a divorced husband (who also happens to be a beleaguered author/limo driver) who will do whatever it takes to save his family from extinction as the world is literally falling apart beneath them.
Cusack sat down with Moviefone to talk about finally deciding to star in a mega-blockbuster, tackling stunts on land and underwater, and what type of role might be next for him.
Have you noticed that every time you play a writer, things seem to get worse and worse? First it was mobsters in 'Bullets Over Broadway,' then a cursed hotel room in '1408' and now the end of the world in '2012.'
That's right. I guess the universe is telling me to stop writing.
What happens the next time?
Maybe I'll have to leave the planet.
Why did you finally decide to give in and do a big, over-the-top, apocalyptic action movie?
I was always into doing it if I could just be in the best one. If you can be in a Spielberg movie or one of these kinds of movies, it's very smart for your career, but you have to do the right one. You have to do one that can be good and successful.
Why was this the right one for you?
It was going to be Sony's big movie of the year. It was Roland Emmerich, and he just offered it to me. It just seemed like the right fit, so I read it and the character seemed right for me. It almost seemed like it had been written with me in mind.
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Which stunts were more difficult -- those on land or those underwater?
Land. Water is very forgiving, as long as you don't drown.
What was the hardest stunt to do?
One of them was running on a conveyor belt. You had to almost be tripping and falling, and it was pretty hard on the hamstrings. There a couple of times [when] things were harder on the lower back. It was a bunch of falling and tumbling and running and things like that.
At least you're well-paid!
Oh, it's no problem. It's no problem. It comes with the rules of the road. It comes with the job.
In this case, the rules of the ever-crumbling road. Last year you made the political satire 'War, Inc.' Given '2012''s political undertones, with the struggle between the characters of Helmsley versus Anheuser, do you think the different sides were represented fairly in the film, and were you worried about how it might be slanted?
Anheuser isn't really a bad guy. He's just about ruthless government Darwinism, and there is only one decision that he makes that is outwardly evil, but the rest of the time he is doing very pragmatic things.
'2012' doesn't have the flag-waving jingoism that we saw with 'Independence Day.'
This one didn't have a lot of that, and I liked that about it.
How did you react when you finally saw the finished film?
I liked it. I don't mean it as an insult in any way, but it worked as epic melodrama.
It feels like of a combination of 'Airport,' 'The Poseidon Adventure' and 'When Worlds Collide.'
Or 'War of the Worlds' or 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' It seemed like it was in that tradition, where you have the everyman trying to figure out what the government's doing and getting involved, and it is scary with amazing action. It seems to be working pretty well. I've seen it with an audience, and they get hooked in real quick. They're pretty exhausted by the time the movie's over, and I think they feel like they got their money's worth. It's two hours and 40 minutes, but it flies by, so that's always a good sign.
Thinking along the sci-fi vein, how did you get involved with 'Hot Tub Time Machine'?
I had finished working [on a film] and didn't really want to work, but then I got call from my company asking if I wanted to do this comedy. I had to produce it, and we had start it in seven weeks because it takes place on a ski hill and the snow was going to melt. I read it and there were 60 to 70 pages of usable material, and the studio knew that they didn't have the second half of it worked out. So it was a mad dash, gamble, juggernaut thing, and they had these really great actors ready to go. Clark Duke, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry are hilarious guys, so we just rolled the dice and did it. It's very ridiculous.
It sound like a very '80s movie.
They go back in time to the '80s.
What do you think your fans would be surprised to learn about you after all these years?
I don't really know. I've talked about hobbies and things that I do. I don't have any horrible, dark secrets that I know of.
Is there any type of role that you want to tackle -- something that might show a different side of you?
I'd like to play some sort of devil or a vampire. I think it would be pretty fun to play a supernatural character.
Vampires are pretty hot right now.
Yeah, so that's not a good idea, but if I could find some really great sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural thing, I think I would really love to do that.
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