John Cusack is like Betty White— it’s simply impossible not to adore him. The erstwhile star of classic ’80s teen films like “Say Anything,” “Better Off Dead,” and “One Crazy Summer”, grew up to star in offbeat fare such as “High Fidelity,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “The Ice Harvest” is now on the road re-screening his beloved 1997 cult film “Grosse Pointe Blank.”
Cusack comes to the Stranahan Theater on Friday, February 8, doing an in-depth question and answer session with the audience. Toledo City Paper got Cusack on the phone for a few minutes to chat about his career, his known love of ska music, and other topics.
The verdict: Cusack is exactly how you’d imagine him to be— shy, funny, polite, and appreciative of a good music soundtrack
I’ve waited years to ask you this question: What’s your favorite Fishbone song? (Cusack is known for being a rabid Fishbone fan, often sporting the band’s shirts in his films)
That’s a good question. There’s too many to choose from. “Turn the Other Way,” “Party At Ground Zero.” So many great songs, they are one of my favorite bands.
You’re touring with “Grosse Pointe Blank.” Why now? It’s not like it’s the film’s anniversary. Did you think about touring with “Say Anything?” After all, it is the 30th anniversary of that film this year.
I think they’re doing both, actually. This company called and asked me if I would do these screenings. I think they’re doing “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “High Fidelity,” and “Say Anything.” They’ll probably do “Say Anything” later in the year. I’m not really organizing it; I’m just going.
“Grosse Pointe Blank” famously takes place in Detroit. What did you like about Detroit when you were up there making the film?
Well, I started out just liking the name and that it (Grosse Pointe) was a suburb of an old industrial workhorse city. But then it could have been pretty much anywhere. Anywhere, USA.
I know you’re from the Midwest and considering the film’s connection to Detroit, I have to ask: Did you get familiar with Faygo when you were up there filming?
No, I never did. Is it good? I’ll have to check it out. We didn’t really do much filming in Detroit, actually. We did some second unit work up there but most of the filming took place in Pasadena, strangely enough. Parts of that neighborhood had those old Midwestern-looking streets.
How often do you get people coming up to you asking for “Two dollars?” (from a popular subplot in the Cusack film “Better Off Dead”)
Hmmmm. Not as much as they come up and reference other movies. Other movies come up quite a bit, but not that one.
One of my favorite films that you did was “The Ice Harvest.” What was it like working with the late, great Harold Ramis?
Really a treat. He was just a brilliant guy. I really enjoyed that time with him and Billy Bob (Thornton) and Oliver Platt. It was really, really fun. It was a real treat for me.
What’s your favorite movie soundtrack?
There used to be some great soundtracks. That used to be more of a thing, but it really hasn’t been that way for a while. “Grosse Pointe” and “High Fidelity” are really good. We did a second volume of “High Fidelity,” which was also good.
You were good friends with Hunter S. Thompson. Do you have a favorite memory of being with Hunter?
Oh, all of them were great. A lot of our relationship was conducted over the phone between midnight and 6 a.m. because he was a real night owl. I remember long, hilarious talks on the phone during the Clinton administration.
I’d like to conclude our interview by telling you a joke: What do you get when you combine The Clash with The Pogues? (Pause) A full set of teeth.
There you go! That’s it. I haven’t heard that one before but it’s a good one.
Join a live conversation with John Cusack, following a screening of “Grosse Pointe Blank”, on Friday, February 8 at the Stranahan Theater, beginning at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit etix.com.