40 reasons to love John Cusack
Today marks the 40th birthday of an actor I’ve grown up with and love more with each movie: John Cusack. From Say Anything to High Fidelity, Cusack has expanded the image of the leading man to encompass offbeat, intelligent and/or sensitive guys. With one look, he can make you laugh, cry and sigh simultaneously.
In honor of the milestone, here are 40 things I love about the actor.
1. His real name is John Cusack. That’s John Paul Cusack, to be exact. If he’d changed it to something like Johnny Danger, he wouldn’t be the same.
2. His movies are worth seeing. OK, so America’s Sweethearts didn’t break any new ground. Neither did Pushing Tin. But overall, Cusack films are a pretty safe bet, and you can’t say that about most A-list stars.
3. He avoids the tabloids. Cusack has always fiercely guarded his privacy, and that kind of determination benefits us all.
4. He was once a geek like the rest of us. Who knew the awkward guy from Sixteen Candles and and Better Off Dead would become such a sexy leading man? Unlike lifelong hunks Depp and Brad Pitt, Cusack has no trouble playing the everyman.
5. He avoided the Brat Pack curse. Despite appearing alongside the likes of Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe, Cusack managed to avoid typecasting, scandal and a post-’80s career crash.
6. He loves his sister. John and Joan Cusack have starred in a long list of movies together, including Say Anything, Sixteen Candles, Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity. How can you not love a guy who keeps his family so close?
7. He loves his other siblings, too. Ann Cusack had a bit part in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Grosse Pointe Blank. Bill Cusack appeared in Con Air. You can see Susie Cusack in High Fidelity. It’s too bad his parents didn’t have 10 more kids, or the Cusack clan could be running Hollywood right now.
8. Jeremy Piven is his pal. You can spot his former roommate in One Crazy Summer, Say Anything, Serendipity, Grosse Pointe Blank and several other films. Here’s hoping Cusack will return the favor with a guest stint on Entourage.
9. Tim Robbins? Also a good friend. Their shared credits include Bob Roberts, The Player and Tapeheads.
10. His musical taste rocks. The Clash, Fishbone, The Ramones and The Specials rank among Cusack’s favorite artists, and he served as music supervisor on High Fidelity. His films boast some of the best soundtracks you can buy.
11. I envy his T-shirt collection. Cusack is known for incorporating musical references into his movies via wardrobe. (Rent Say Anything if you can’t remember what I’m talking about.)
12. His leading ladies aren’t far-fetched. Unlike some actors we won’t name, Cusack’s on-screen love interests are usually cool and close to his age, from High Fidelity’s Lisa Bonet to Must Love Dogs’ Diane Lane to The Ice Harvest’s Connie Nielsen.
13. He hasn’t been married 20 times. In fact he hasn’t been married once, which allows many of us to still believe we have a chance.
14. His real-life girlfriends aren’t bimbos. They include Lili Taylor, Claire Forlani, Minnie Driver and Neve Campbell. Man, I love a guy who loves a brunette …
15. Chicago is his first love. Cusack was raised in Evanston, Ill., and he remains a devoted Cubs fan and Windy City enthusiast.
16. He reminds you of a guy you know. I think part of the reason fans love John Cusack so much is because he comes across as an honest, well-intentioned guy. (I dare say he’s an ideal male role model.)
17. He maintains his theater ties. He founded a theater group in the ’80s and has helmed several productions since.
18. He’s more than an actor. In fact, Cusack shares screenplay credits on Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity.
19. He supports good movies. New Crime Productions, Cusack’s production company, has backed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Jack Bull and the actor’s next film, Grace Is Gone.
20. He made Tapeheads. The comedy must’ve been a huge risk coming off of all those teen movies, but he took the chance anyway.
21. And did I mention Being John Malkovich? I can’t imagine anyone else as the eccentric, selfish puppeteer. Cusack even covered up his good looks with a long wig and baggy clothes; not all leading men are so game for a makeunder.
22. He knows when to say no. Cusack rejected roles in Apollo 13 and Indecent Proposal, among other flicks.
23. He doesn’t give pretentious interviews. Every piece I’ve read about Cusack leaves me wishing I could have a beer with him someday. Hopefully, there’s still time.
24. He does a bloody good DVD commentary. Hear his comments during Say Anything, and you’ll wish all of films came with a Cusack commentary track.
25. He really did believe kickboxing was the sport of the future. It used to be — and hey, maybe it still is — one of his favorite pasttimes.
26. He cries. Say Anything and High Fidelity are just two flicks that exposed his emotional side.
27. He hasn’t played The Oscar Character. You know who I mean — the blind, mentally challenged, grief-stricken, sexually confused dude that guarantees an Academy Award nomination. Instead, Cusack gravitates toward more down-to-earth, identifiable roles.
28. He reads. Cusack was a friend of Hunter S. Thompson and has appeared in several adaptations of good novels, including Fidelity and Midnight in the Garden.
29. He blogs. Though he doesn’t talk politics as much as, say, Alec Baldwin or Martin Sheen, he has openly expressed his views in various forums. Most recently, his name popped up on The Huffington Post.
30. He has a good head of hair. Not to say I wouldn’t love him bald …
31. He’s never gone blonde. I’d also like to thank him for avoiding the “fauxhawk,” the soul patch and other follicle oddities.
32. He’s not above a cameo. His itty-bitty roles include participating in Suicidal Tendencies’ Trip At the Brain video and Spike Jonze’s Adaptation.
33. He survived an involuntary presidential run. The fan-organized “Cusack for President” campaign petered out when the actor denied any political aspirations.
34. He’s not conventionally gorgeous. He may be one of Hollywood’s most desirable men, but it’s not for his super-square jaw, Adonis figure or flawless, blindingly bright teeth.
35. He’s aged gracefully. Since John Cusack generally plays his age, his 40th birthday doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. (One exception: He was 22 while playing an 18-year-old in Say Anything, though that marked his final teen role.)
36. He’s never been in a movie with Kevin Bacon. Of course, once Bacon gets wind of this, he may put a stop to it.
37. He’s cool to his fans. That is, until they cross the line …
38. He’s not bitter about being ignored at award shows. For a man with so many impressive film credentials, he has won depressingly few recognitions.
39. He still takes chances. Cusack plays an Iraq war widower in his next movie. The premise will inevitably lead to controversy, but this will likely have no effect on Cusack’s role.
40. He was Lloyd Dobler. I shudder to imagine a world without the Say Anything hero, a high-school senior wise enough to know true love was far more valuable than a lifetime spent buying, selling and processing. John Cusack is the only actor who could’ve fit the part, and I owe him big time for the hours of daydreams and amusement he has given me.
Happy birthday, John! Here’s to 40 more years of good health, good fortune and good work.
40 reasons to love John Cusack