Last week, I posted interviews with John Cusack and Alice Eve from a press junket for The Raven, along with an interview with director James McTeigue. I also had a chance to catch up with John Cusack in New York City for a brief chat at The Vault at Pfaff, which opened it’s doors in 1855.
It was thought that the the location would be fitting to discuss The Raven, as it was a hangout for a number of literary greats including Walt Whitman. While we discussed many of the topics mentioned in our previous interview, I thought fans of John Cusack and The Raven would enjoy some of these additional details from our second meet-up:
What was your fascination with Poe and why do you relate to him?
John Cusack: It’s an interesting headspace and he’s an interesting character. We’re all sort of attracted to the abyss. Around Halloween, doesn’t everyone get into the supernatural, ghouls, and the underworld? It’s not something I want to stay in, but it’s a fun place to visit once in a while.
There are not many writers who try to think about what their worst nightmare is. Most people want to wake up and get away from it, but some want to go deeper. He just had this interesting mind and wanted to embrace the nightmare. His romance with the abyss makes him courageous, tragic, and sympathetic. We all have a bit of that in us and I thought it was fun to do for a limited time.
What helped you get into character while filming?
John Cusack: You’re definitely in the mood when you’re Budapest during the winter with a head full of Poe, dressed up and walking down cobblestone streets with horses and carriages. It definitely puts you in the mood and you feel like you’re having a really good dream… or a bad dream.
Can you tell us more about the bar scene? I really enjoyed some of those first scenes with Poe and wanted to know if they were exactly the same as the script or if there was improvisation on your part.
John Cusack: We thought that first scene at the bar should be really great. In that sequence I wanted to set up all of the different facets of that character. He’s an addict, an aristocrat, bitter, charming, and manipulative. I thought it was a cool set piece to show off Poe a little bit, before the action really happens.
That scene was something I talked about with James McTeigue and we kept working on it with the writers to keep pushing it a little bit. There was such a high standard for his language and mannerisms, so we wanted to bring that up real high. You’re trying to emulate one of the literary giants.
Many people say that great art only comes from suffering. From your research, how much do you think his alcoholism, drug addiction, and emotional issues played into his works?
John Cusack: I have a feeling that the suffering that Poe had was genetic and circumstantial in some ways. He was probably just born the way he was, which was too high strung, super intelligent, but also vain and moody. He had a lot of character defects, but he was a lover of beauty and a genius.
I think he drank to calm his mind or alleviate his fears of failure and emotional anguish. It was some sort of balance, but like most alcoholics that balance doesn’t work anymore. But he did have long stretches where he could not drink and he did a lot of great work.
To read much more from John Cusack on playing Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven, check out the first part of our interview at: http://dailydead.com/interview-part-1-john-cusack-talks-the-raven/
You can also learn more about the film with the following articles: