When told “welcome home” recently, Chicago native John Cusack grinned and said, “Well, that’s funny, because I really never have left Chicago.”
The actor, who travels the globe making movies – as he did shooting his latest, “The Raven,” in Belgrade and Budapest – admits he is away from his hometown more than he’s here, but “I have always kept a place in Chicago. And I am always so happy to get back here when I’m not working.”
In “The Raven,” opening Friday, Cusack plays the great Edgar Allan Poe, who helps a detective who’s looking for a serial killer who uses Poe’s stories as inspiration for his murders.
Q. How do you think avid Edgar Allan Poe fans will feel about the film? Clearly the film’s writers took a bit of poetic license.
A. I’m not unaware that there have been lots of blogs and tweets criticizing the film, but I think when people actually see it, they will like it. We did not make a biopic. I wouldn’t have been interested in doing that. This is much more interesting.
Q. I understand you went out of your way to research Poe so you could essentially become him on screen.
A. I read everything I could lay my hands on. I read virtually everything he wrote, including his criticism, not just his poetry and stories. He was so complex. On the one hand, a brilliant, literary genius who spoke beautifully. On the other hand, he was an alcoholic, often deeply depressed – a man who basically lost every woman he loved, and someone who held so many of his contemporary writers in such deep disdain.
Q. Much of what we see of Poe in “The Raven” is his melancholy, unhappy side. Was that tough to play, or did you enjoy getting in touch with your own “dark side”?
A. I wouldn’t say that. This was very grueling. I had to really get into that characterization, and it made for a very long, difficult shoot, but in the end, was completely worth it. I’m very happy with the film, and I think we created a believable thriller.