Personal detailsName: John Cusack
Born: 28 June 1966 (Age: 48)
Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height: 6' 3"
Awards: 1 BAFTA and 1 Golden Globe nominations
All about this star
So many actors claim to despise the film industry. All that matters is big profits, they say, the Lowest Common Denominator is King. Yet very few do anything about it. Very few use the industry with intelligence, playing the tawdry game but using their money and influence to get classier projects off the ground. Fewer still dare to use their celebrated position to criticize government policy. One who does is Tim Robbins, who'll accept a whacking pay packet to appear in trash like Mission To Mars, then spend time and money on his theatre group and pet projects like The Cradle Will Rock. Another such maverick is Robbins' close friend, John Cusack, action star of Con Air, but also the co-writer and star of indie hits High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank and War, Inc. Superstar, artist and concerned citizen - a difficult balancing act.
Considering his background, how could it have been any other way? Cusack was born on the 28th of June, 1966, in Evanston, a northern district of Chicago, right on Lake Michigan. His father, Richard, worked in advertising then, in 1970, seeking a more substantial life, formed a production company and moved into documentary film-making, quickly winning an Emmy for The Committee, an examination of the abortion debate. He'd also try acting, later appearing in his children's first movies, then later such blockbusters as The Fugitive and While You Were Sleeping). John's mother, Nancy, gave up teaching maths to look after the children - in order, Ann, Joan, Bill, John and Susie.
Richard and Nancy had moved to Chicago from New York in 1965. As time passed they grew ever more radical, becoming close friends with the renegade priest and infamous and oft-jailed anti-Vietnam war protestor Philip Berrigan. Oddly for Irish-Catholics, they believed in "a kind of Joseph Campbell theory of pursuing bliss. Whatever excites or makes you happy is what you should be doing". And what excited the Cusack kids was acting. When John was but 3, Ann (5 years his senior) would organise plays for the siblings to enact.
John remembers life at home as one continuous performance. There were a lot of laughs, many emanating from the hilarious Joan, but the kids were not just messing about. At 8, John joined the Piven Theatre Workshop, run by family friends Byrne and Joyce Piven and housed in an Evanston school Richard had converted into the Noyes Cultural Arts Centre. Ann and Joan were already regulars, as was the Pivens' son Jeremy, who'd become a lifelong friend of John's, appearing in many of his movies (most notably in Serendipity), and as the doctor-cousin in Ellen. John watched his sisters in shows then, finally, made his own debut, in Chekov's The Darling. He recalls "these wonderful lights, like a dreamscape".