'The Raven': John Cusack Plays Edgar Allan Poe, Fulfilling A Lifelong Dream

John Cusack: Playing Edgar Allan Poe Was A Lifelong Dream

John Cusack says his turn in "The Raven" is the role of a lifetime, which is high praise considering the 45-year-old has acted in over 50 films and is attached to no fewer than seven projects in 2012 alone.

In the film, which opens today in the UK and April 23 in the States, Cusack stars as the 19th-century American poet Edgar Allan Poe. In this fictionalized version of events, Poe must scramble to stop a serial killer from taking innocent lives in the style of Poe's often macabre work.

Cusack, who won eternal fan favor with his roles in the '80s classics "Sixteen Candles" and "Say Anything" (he says he's still eager to do a sequel of the latter), told Sky News that actors dream of playing a character as complex as the infamously neurotic poet.

"There couldn't be a richer, more iconic character to play," he said. "So if I can find things like this I'm as happy as I can be."

Playing Poe wasn't easy work, as Cusack had to not only alter his physique for the role but also absorb the entirety of Poe's poetry. (Cusack said he read "everything" the author wrote, as well as a few biographies.)

In a round-table discussion with journalists in London, Cusack said filming the movie required him to be a bit unhinged. ""I tried my hardest, I came back exhausted, weighing 187 pounds, stumbling around," the actor said. "But we made sure to get him as complex and f***ed up as possible. It was like being on a bender. It was like being on a journey to the underworld artistically, and I thought it was exciting, but I didn't want to stay there."

And as for his recovery plans? "Afterwards, you come out, and just hope that there's not a brick wall in front of you, and you put some throw mats down on the ground, and make no plans for about a month after."

Cusack enjoyed his close working relationship with director James McTeigue, who is best known for making "V For Vendetta."

"What I really loved about 'The Raven' was that it was independently financed, so I felt like it was me and James McTeigue making the movie," Cusack told the BBC. "Of course there are more people on set, but creatively and tonally... you don't have to satisfy a group of people."

Cusack's commitment to artistic freedom may explain why he hasn't tried his hand at a big television drama. "The idea of having a group of TV network people come in a tell you how you're going to do the scene -- I don't think that would be right for me," he said.

The Guardian describes "The Raven" as a cross between the slightly more cerebral "Se7en" and outright horror movies like "Saw," adding, "Stephen King's Misery and Updike's Bech Noir spring to mind, and it's a nice touch to give Baltimore a serial killer over a century before Dr Hannibal Lecter was employed by the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in that city."

What do you think? Will you catch the film once it lands in the United States?

WATCH: John Cusack Talks "The Raven," His "Dream Role"


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