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John Cusack
John Cusack Cannes 2014.jpg
Cusack at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
John Paul Cusack

(1966-06-28) June 28, 1966 (age 57)
  • Actor
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • political activist
Years active 1983–present
  • Dick Cusack (father)
Family Ann Cusack (sister)
Joan Cusack (sister)

John Paul Cusack (/ˈkjuːsæk/; born June 28, 1966) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and political activist. He is a son of filmmaker Dick Cusack, and his older sisters are actresses Joan and Ann Cusack.

Cusack began acting in films during the 1980s, starring in coming-of-age dramedies such as The Sure Thing (1985), Better Off Dead (1985), and Say Anything... (1989). He then started appearing in independent films such as Eight Men Out (1988), The Grifters (1990), True Colors (1991), and Bullets Over Broadway (1994). Cusack began appearing as a leading man in such film as the comedic films Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), the action thriller Con Air (1997), the animated musical Anastasia (1997), the psychological drama Being John Malkovich (1999), and the romantic comedies High Fidelity (2000), America's Sweethearts (2001), Serendipity (2001), and Must Love Dogs (2005). He also starred in Runaway Jury (2003), Grace Is Gone (2007), Martian Child (2007), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), The Butler (2013), Maps to the Stars (2014), and Chi-Raq (2015). He portrayed Brian Wilson in the critically acclaimed musical biopic Love and Mercy (2015).

Multiple film critics and media outlets have cited Cusack as one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.

Early life

Cusack was born in Evanston, Illinois into an Irish Catholic family. His parents are writer-actor-producer and documentary filmmaker Richard J. "Dick" Cusack (1925–2003), originally from New York City, and Ann Paula "Nancy" (née Carolan) Cusack (1929-2022), originally from Massachusetts, a former mathematics teacher and political activist. John's older sisters, Ann and Joan, are also actors. Cusack has two other siblings, Bill and Susie. The family moved from Manhattan, New York, to Illinois and were friends of activist Philip Berrigan. Cusack graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1984, where he met Jeremy Piven, and spent a year at New York University before dropping out, saying that he had "too much fire in his belly".


John Cusack Headshot
Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven

Cusack began acting in films in the early 1980s. He made his breakout role in Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing (1985). He also starred in Cameron Crowe's directorial debut film, Say Anything... (1989). Cusack played a con artist in Stephen Frears' 1990 neo-noir film The Grifters. After establishing New Crime Productions, Cusack co-wrote the screenplay for and starred in George Armitage's crime film Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), in which he played an assassin who goes to his 10-year high school reunion to win back his high school sweetheart.

In Spike Jonze's fantasy film Being John Malkovich (1999), Cusack played a puppeteer who finds a portal leading into the mind of the eponymous actor, John Malkovich. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Director (Jonze), Best Original Screenplay (Charlie Kaufman) and Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener). Cusack was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in High Fidelity (2000), based on Nick Hornby's novel, and also appeared in America's Sweethearts (2001), Serendipity (2001), Identity (2003), Runaway Jury (2003), Must Love Dogs (2005), The Ice Harvest (2005), The Contract (2006), Grace Is Gone (2007), 1408 (2007), Martian Child (2007), War, Inc. (2008).

Cusack starred as Jackson Curtis in Roland Emmerich's epic disaster film 2012 (2009), which the struggling novelist had attempts to survive the apocalypse and save mankind.

Cusack also played Edgar Allan Poe in James McTeigue's biopic film The Raven (2012) and starred in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars (2014).

Later, he starred in video on demand films, including The Factory, The Numbers Station, The Frozen Ground, Grand Piano (2013), Drive Hard (2014), The Prince (2014), Reclaim (2014), Cell (2016), Arsenal (2017), Blood Money (2017), and Singularity (2017).

In 2014, Cusack criticized Hollywood saying the mega-corporations have stepped in with 50-producer movies, franchises are king, and stars are used as leverage. ....."

Political activism

He is anti-war, having tweeted, "Being anti-war — is pro-troops — pro-human". Between 2005 and 2009, Cusack wrote blogs for The Huffington Post, which included an interview with Naomi Klein. He voiced his opposition to the war in Iraq and Bush's administration, calling the government's worldview "depressing, corrupt, unlawful, and tragically absurd". He also appeared in a June 2008 advertisement, where he said that George W. Bush and John McCain had the same governing priorities.

Cusack criticized the Obama administration for its drone policy in the Middle East and its support of the National Defense Authorization Act, and became one of the initial supporters of the Freedom of the Press Foundation in 2012. In June 2015, he stated in an interview with The Daily Beast that "when you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, [Obama] is as bad or worse than Bush". He later criticized the publication for misquoting him in order to make an interesting headline.

In 2015, Cusack, Daniel Ellsberg and Arundhati Roy met Edward Snowden, who had fled the US because of his leaks of classified information surrounding illegal population surveillance, at a Moscow hotel room. This meeting was converted into a book co-authored with Roy titled Things That Can and Cannot Be Said.

Cusack endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

During the 2014 Israel Gaza conflict, Cusack supported the Palestinians on social media. He tweeted from the region a number of pro-Gaza articles. One tweet read, "Bombing people who can't escape not [sic] defense – does not mean one supports Hamas means to be against murder as solution to political problem."

In 2018, after Lorde cancelled performances in Israel after a request from the BDS movement, Cusack was among more than a hundred writers, actors, director, and musicians who signed a letter defending Lorde's freedom of conscience.

In June 2019, Cusack wrote a tweet featuring an image of a large fist with a blue Star of David crushing a small crowd of people next to a quote often misattributed to Voltaire: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize". The quote is in reality a comment by the white supremacist and neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom. In the tweet, Cusack added the words "Follow the money." He later blamed it on a "bot," then defended it, then apologized and deleted the tweet.

Personal life

Cusack trained in kickboxing under former world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez for over twenty years. He began training under Urquidez in preparation for his role in Say Anything... and holds the rank of a level six black belt in Urquidez's Ukidokan Kickboxing system.

In March 2008, police arrested Emily Leatherman outside Cusack's Malibu, California home for stalking him. On October 10, 2008, Leatherman pleaded no contest and received five years' probation and mandatory psychiatric counseling, and was ordered to stay away from Cusack, his home, and business for the next ten years.

Cusack has never been married nor had children; when asked in a 2009 interview why this was the case, he answered, "Society doesn't tell me what to do."



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Class Roscoe
1984 Sixteen Candles Bryce
1984 Grandview, U.S.A. Johnny Maine
1985 The Sure Thing Walter "Gib" Gibson
1985 Better Off Dead Lane Meyer
1985 The Journey of Natty Gann Harry
1986 Stand by Me Dennis "Denny" Lachance
1986 One Crazy Summer Hoops McCann
1987 Hot Pursuit Dan Bartlett
1987 Broadcast News Angry Messenger
1988 Tapeheads Ivan Alexeev
1988 Eight Men Out Buck Weaver
1989 Say Anything... Lloyd Dobler
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Michael Merriman
1990 The Grifters Roy Dillon
1991 True Colors Peter Burton
1991 Shadows and Fog Student Jack
1992 Roadside Prophets Caspar
1992 The Player Himself Cameo
1992 Map of the Human Heart The Mapmaker
1992 Bob Roberts Cutting Edge Host
1993 Money for Nothing Joey Coyle
1994 Floundering JC
1994 Bullets over Broadway David Shayne
1994 The Road to Wellville Charles Ossining
1996 City Hall Deputy Mayor Kevin Calhoun
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Martin Q. Blank Also co-writer and producer
1997 Con Air U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
1997 Chicago Cab Scary Man
1997 Anastasia Dimitri Voice
1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Kelso
1998 This Is My Father Eddie Sharp
1998 The Thin Red Line Captain Gaff
1999 Pushing Tin Nick Falzone
1999 Cradle Will Rock Nelson Rockefeller
1999 Being John Malkovich Craig Schwartz
2000 High Fidelity Rob Gordon Also co-writer and producer
2001 America's Sweethearts Eddie Thomas
2001 Serendipity Jonathan Trager
2002 Max Max Rothman Also associate producer
2002 Adaptation Himself Uncredited cameo
2003 Identity Edward "Ed" Dakota
2003 Runaway Jury Nicholas Easter
2005 Must Love Dogs Jake Anderson
2005 The Ice Harvest Charlie Arglist
2006 The Contract Ray Keene Direct-to-VOD
2007 Grace Is Gone Stanley Philipps Also producer
2007 1408 Michael "Mike" Enslin
2007 Martian Child David Gordon
2008 War, Inc. Brand Hauser Also co-writer and producer
2008 Igor Igor Voice
2009 2012 Jackson Curtis
2010 Hot Tub Time Machine Adam Yates Also producer
2010 Shanghai Paul Soames Direct-to-VOD
2012 The Raven Edgar Allan Poe
2012 The Paperboy Hillary Van Wetter
2012 The Factory Mike Fletcher Direct-to-VOD
2013 The Numbers Station Emerson Kent Direct-to-VOD
2013 The Frozen Ground Robert Hansen Direct-to-VOD
2013 The Butler Richard Nixon
2013 Grand Piano Clem
2013 We Are Not Animals Tony Lovecraft Also co-writer and executive producer
2013 Adult World Rat Billings
2014 The Bag Man Jack Direct-to-VOD
2014 Maps to the Stars Stafford Weiss
2014 Drive Hard Simon Keller Direct-to-VOD
2014 The Prince Sam Direct-to-VOD
2014 Love & Mercy Brian Wilson
2014 Reclaim Benjamin Direct-to-VOD
2015 Dragon Blade Lucius Released in China
2015 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Adam Yates Deleted cameo
2015 Chi-Raq Fr. Mike Corridan
2016 Cell Clayton Riddell Also executive producer, direct-to-VOD
2017 Arsenal Sal Direct-to-VOD
2017 Blood Money Miller Direct-to-VOD
2017 Singularity Elias van Dorne Direct-to-VOD
2018 Distorted Vernon Sarsfield
2018 River Runs Red Horace Direct-to-VOD
2019 Never Grow Old Dutch Albert
2022 Pursuit John Calloway Direct-to-VOD


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Frasier Greg Voice; Episode: "Our Father Whose Art Ain't Heaven"
1999 The Jack Bull Myrl Redding Television film; also executive producer
2014 Wall Street Ted Unaired pilot; also executive producer
2014 Doll & Em John Episode: "Three"
2020 Utopia Dr. Kevin Christie 8 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1989 Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Actor Say Anything... Won
1999 Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead Being John Malkovich Nominated
1999 Online Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Being John Malkovich Nominated
1999 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Being John Malkovich Nominated
2000 American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Being John Malkovich Nominated
2000 BAFTA Best Adapted Screenplay High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Empire Awards Best Actor High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Teen Choice Awards Choice Hissy Fit High Fidelity Nominated
2000 University of Southern California Scripter Award High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Writers Guild of America Best Adapted Screenplay High Fidelity Nominated
2001 American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) High Fidelity Nominated
2007 Saturn Awards Best Actor 1408 Nominated
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor – Sci-Fi 2012 Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Butler Nominated
2014 Canadian Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Maps to the Stars Won

See also

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