John Cusack: Child stardom is ‘brutal. It’s different now. It’s worse than it was’

John Cusack

John Cusack is a strange cat (yet not as odd as his sister, Joan). He came to 1980s fame in movies like Sixteen Candles and Say Anything. Do you know how many times I’ve watched Sixteen Candles? A hundred times at least, thanks to HBO summer reruns and permissive parents. I’m not joking. (Call me, Jake Ryan.) John made several movies during his late teenage years, so I guess he qualifies as a former child star.

John’s career these days is all about indies with an occasional (ridiculous) blockbuster like 2012 to pad the wallet. He had a big TIFF week. He stars with Elisabeth Banks in Love and Mercy (John plays Brian Wilson of Beach Boys; Liz plays his wife, Melinda Ledbetter). John also stars alongside Sparkles in Map to the Stars, which is a satire on Hollywood. (John plays a therapist who does “rolfing,” a deep-tissue massage method). John gave a few TIFF interviews that I’ve cobbled together. He’s not impressed with the fate of today’s former child stars. Dude seems concerned about Justin Bieber. I think he’s critiquing the media’s obsession with Swaggy rather than coming out as pro-Swag. John probably doesn’t realize all of Bieber’s dangerous antics, but the message still stands:

Is Map of the Stars far from the truth? “The satire and absurdity is a logical extension of current truth and trends. Maybe [the film]’s a look into the future. There’s nothing less obscene or crazy than the stuff you see every day.”

The film’s child stars have it rough: “Yeah, it’s brutal. I got into films [at the age] where it can do a lot of damage — 16. I started with people who got damaged. It’s different now. It’s much worse than it was. Back then, there was expectation of a private life. There were areas you could go and make mistakes [without media attention], because what else are you going to do between 16 and 25 but make mistakes? It’s like the Eye Of Sauron. Here we are in Toronto , and there’s a TV channel doing live ‘breaking news’ coverage that is tracking — in real time — Justin Bieber’s movements into a mall. I mean, like, what the (hell) is that? It’s just madness. The ship has sailed on me believing in any of that. This movie is tame in comparison.”

In Map, he plays a rolfing therapist: “I’m into that stuff. I’ve done Rolfing. As an actor you’re into it because you look into how you internalise emotion. Your whole body is your ‘thing.’ right? One part I think is true is that your emotions, memories and trauma get stored in your body — if you press into them then you can release them. But then the emotions come back up. There are always truths in these hustles.”

Why hasn’t he played a superhero? “I’ve done a couple of huge movies, but it’s a strange thing, hard to quantify. Nowadays I do some journeyman-ish films that are the best that I can get, then I take that money and use it to develop other things. It’s like two totally different careers. If you can get a superhero movie, you get it, but they aren’t offering me one …”

His Twitter obsession: “I see it as a place to f*** around, but it’s interesting to hear from people who are into what you’re doing. Some of them are fans in a freaky way… You can also curate content. I get my news feed from people I’m interested in. If I want to know about foreign affairs or politics, I follow journalists I think are awesome. You can create this eclectic mulch. Or just f*** around and post sh*t.”

[From Vancouver Sun & Shortlist]

Every actor wants a superhero role, don’t they? There are so many superhero films these days, and the actors who don’t do them stand out. It’s clear that John wouldn’t mind playing one of those roles so we should create one for him. How about Mr. Sardonic? Help me out here, folks.

Oh, and John’s talk about Twitter isn’t mere lip service. The dude tweets so much, and he follows civilians who suit his fancy. That’s pretty cool, right? Be careful if you interact with him. Never correct his grammar, or he will happily block you.

John Cusack

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

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79 Responses to “John Cusack: Child stardom is ‘brutal. It’s different now. It’s worse than it was’”

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  1. Mindless Contemplations says:

    I think that JC is actually an intelligent guy. I used to be a huge fan of his and the one day i just wasnt.

    • Esmom says:

      That about sums it up for me, too.

      He’s looking rough in that shot with R Patz. That suit is tragic.

    • mia girl says:

      I feel the same.

      He is in movies I love from back in the day (High Fidelity, Better off Dead, Sixteen Candles, etc.). There was a time I would watch any movie he was in, but then I just stopped being interested in his choices. Maybe around that 2012 movie…

      But I will forever be a fan because of The Grifters. That movie is perfection.

      • Bridget says:

        Same here too. It was made even worse when I read about him being a total jerk. Apparently just because he plays a nice everyman it doesn’t make him one in real life.

      • PunkyMomma says:

        @mia – The Grifters was, IMO, his best work. And it was an outstanding film.

      • mimif says:

        ITA, he was so believable in that film. Sigh. Ever since someone mentioned he passed up the role of Walter White, I can’t unsee it (but I’m so glad Cranston got the part).

  2. StormsMama says:

    I still would. Again and again.

    • silken_floss says:

      Ugh, I know right??!! He’s still so yummy!!

    • Mot says:

      During his high fidelity/grosse point blank phase….I was soooo in love (of course gotta love “sure thing” JC too)

      • Anne tommy says:

        Always loved him and always will, have always thought he’s never had the recognition as an actor that he should because he tends to make it look easy. He has the loveliest eyes in hollywood.

      • Lucinda says:

        This right here. He has done such a wide range of movies and is so good. I think (or I want to believe) he just tends to shy away from the politics necessary to gain that kind of acclaim. I love him and I prefer not to know too much about him.

    • pantalones en fuego says:

      One of my forever dongs.

    • Bella bella says:

      But have you ever heard of him having a girlfriend? I always wonder which way he swings.

  3. shannon says:

    love him. Love. Him.

  4. Aussie girl says:

    Everytime 16 candles is on, I have to watch it too. That is all

    • Nicolette says:

      Me too even though I have it on DVD. It’s one of my all time favorites which are largely made up of John Hughes films. Absolutely loved his brand of comedy and wish he were still around making movies that had us feeling good and laughing.

  5. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I really like him.

    I think child stars have always had it rough. Some of the children who starred in The Little Rascals were so traumatized that they couldn’t talk about it. Shirley Temple was fired over the phone by her studio when she wasn’t a cute little girl anymore after she spent her entire childhood making them a fortune. Hollywood is a brutal, sometimes evil place. It has never been kind to children.

    • Kiddo says:

      Yeah, I agree. I read (or watched?) a program on Judy Garland. They told her she was fat and then gave her diet pills (amphetamines). And when she couldn’t sleep, they gave her depressants. And you wonder how she turned into a tragic addicted mess in her later life. The studios definitely gave her her start there, too, not just a movie career.

    • Nicolette says:

      Hollywood tends to turn their kids into victims in my eyes. Whether from pedophiles, and yes they are the ones in power and rampant throughout the industry, or enablers who supply them with the necessary drugs to get through the day. I would never for a moment consider putting a child of mine into that environment. Yet there are many parents who are so blinded by the fame and fortune and likely living vicariously through their kids, that they turn a blind eye to it all. They sell their kids along with their souls and it’s sad.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        It is sad.

      • frisbeejada says:

        more than sad, standing back and watching their kids go through that is a form of child abuse

      • Tiffany :) says:

        It isn’t always as terrible as it seems, though I can see why it would appear that way.

        I have a friend whose 10 year old son was mildly interested in acting. He booked an international Olympic commercial and now his college is completely paid for and the money is sitting in a trust. He has moved on from acting to basketball as his “thing”.

  6. Chris says:

    Brutal? Has he seen what’s going on in Iraq?

    • Esmom says:

      To be fair, the topic was Hollywood and how it’s changed for child actors. I don’t think it’s fair to slam him for not bringing up global events, the word “brutal” doesn’t strike me as inappropriate in that context.

      • Chris says:

        First World problems, Esmom.

      • Esmom says:

        Of course. But isn’t that true of all Hollywood and in any celeb fluff piece? Personally I’m not all that interested in celebs’ take on world events, I’m just here for the gossip.

      • We Are All Made of Stars says:

        Um, yeah. Child exploitation, superficiality to the point of it being psychologically damaging for everyone, using and destroying young kids so already wealthy adults can line their pockets, our increasingly Orwellian obsession with the minutae of other people’s pointless lives and our sense of entitlement to even the most private and personal aspects of their lives…. first world problems indeed.

        People living their lives for you on TV, they say they’re better than you…and you agree.

        -Jewel, Who Will Save Your Soul

      • Sea Dragon says:

        ^^Yes to every word of the first paragraph and to Honeybea.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        First world trolls. I think Chris knows this is appropriate in context, he just enjoys ruffling feathers.

    • Josefa says:

      Sheesh. You must be an incredibly fun person to be around.

    • Honeybea says:


    • some bitch says:

      Somebody’s experiences aren’t invalid just because there are other things going on in the world.

    • Gretchen says:

      As far as I’m aware Cusack is pretty vocal about political issues such as Iraq. Does that mean he can’t speak about his industry also?

      This attitude just rubs me the wrong way. It reminds me of people who belittle those suffering from clinical depression with comments like ‘you should be grateful, at least you’re not in a war zone/starving etc’

  7. samtha says:

    He would be a better Doctor Strange than Joaquin Phoenix.

    • Kimmy says:

      Right!? He would make a really great, kooky villain.

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

      You called it! much better casting choice. JP is about as interesting as Gwyneth Paltrows latest diet plan.

    • sigh((s)) says:

      Ooh..good call. I’ve always loved john cusack. Even if he’s a giant jerk. And I liked 2012 too. It was totally ridiculous, but he was still in it so..yum.

  8. decorative item says:

    Love his sister! She is a big old bag of nuts and never fails to be entertaining. I would pay to see her paint a wall.

    • Esmom says:

      Me too! She used to live around the corner from me and was so “normal” and low key. She’s also much prettier in person than she comes across on film, too.

      • mimif says:

        No way. She’s awesome, always.

        Also, just finished season 4, Esmom. Knock knock! 😀

      • Esmom says:

        mimif, you’re moving along! What crazy finale to that season, no? And just wait you are in for so much more.

        I’m enjoying a new binge watch myself, Parks and Rec, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find Chris Pratt (I know he’s no WW) cute as a button.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        mimif, did you love that moment as much as I did? It was just the PERFECT alignment of writing and acting. He hit that solidly out of the ballpark!

        Sometimes I totally relate to that moment, because I look pretty sweet and innocent, but that doesn’t mean that I AM sweet and innocent. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday I shout out, “No, fool, I’m the one who knocks!” 😉

      • mimif says:

        @Esmom after a brief period of silence, I shall join you with Parks & Rec. Maybe. I might have to watch BB again first… 😉

        @Tiffany, haha YES, I forgot you were the one that pointed that out earlier. Ding Dong, baby! 😃

    • Kiddo says:

      Ditto. I like his sister better.

    • Bored suburbanhousewife says:

      Love Joan in Shameless!

      Btw there is a great tell all book about the hotel business called Heads in Beds. JC is supposedly the anonymous Hollywood actor who the books authored loved because he had starred in many movies of personal significance to him and many others in the 90s but was a total freak douchey weirdo in person.

    • Lucinda says:

      She is just as wonderful, maybe more. I love her too.

  9. Jayna says:

    I miss him in bigger, more commercial movies. I always liked him and would check out many movies if I saw he was in it. And then it seems like he stopped getting the offers so much.

  10. hadlyB says:

    So is this his excuse why he’s such a dbag to all his girlfriends? Or a dbag in general?

    He needs to move on and grow up. He sounds bitter, angry and looks like crap.

    I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard about this guy over the many years, he sounds bitter he never made it to Brad Pitt level of stardom.

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

      It makes me wonder if he is an alcoholic – it takes its toll on attitude and drinkers most often treat their signifigant others like garbage. It also makes them have to be ‘babied’ and also creates bitterness.

    • Ash says:

      I’ve never paid attention to his personal life, but there could be a multitude of reasons. All his gfs could be raging lunatics, he could be, he obviously likes to work so he’s gone a lot, could be alcohol, no one knows but hmm and those in his personal life.

      • Bridget says:

        What’s more likely: every single girlfriend was crazy, or he’s just a jerk?

      • Ark says:

        Could be both. I don’t know him personally or his girlfriends, so, I can’t say either way. He is a celebrity, therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me, but celebrity also attract crazies.

      • Ash says:

        @Bridget Given I don’t know him or his girlfriends not met them, I can’t say either way. But, I also take gossip from papers and such with a grain a salt, because, while sometimes they’re right, they’re usually made up lies a good portion of the time.

        Yeah, he is probably a jerk in real life. Wouldn’t be the first celebrity to be. But, given the state of society lately, I also wouldn’t be surprised if some of his girlfriends were crazy. Like some women are attracted to jerks, Cusack could be attracted to crazies. I have guy friends who purposely date controlling women, because of the thrill.

        Didn’t mean to write so much. I’m trying to waste time while baby rest. She was sick most of the night.

      • Dee Barrymore says:

        I’m his current twitter girlfriend and yes, I AM a raging lunatic. #BlameMe #TheBarrymoreCharm

      • Mrs. Darcy says:

        Is he a douchebag to them or just a commitment phobe who eventually breaks their hearts? He’s a serial monogamist, but is there dirt on him being otherwise love rat/cheaty or something, because I haven’t heard it? I don’t know, any woman who has dated John Cusack in the past decade must know what they’re getting into, so I’m not that inclined to think ill of him for not getting married and cheating anyway like most guys in Hollywood, at least he has an ethos of sorts. I adored him from Hughes era to Say Anything through to High Fidelity, but he hasn’t really made any good movies in like a decade.

        I’m not saying I think he’s a nice guy, he was actually really rude to a friend of mine in college when she went to see him film a movie at a hotel her friend worked at. Like he blanked her completely, this young girl, for daring to speak to him, and I have never met any celeb who was that much of an a** to a fan. But it is what it is, I don’t expect he’s become some super awesome guy in middle age like Bill Murray, he’s just a snarky, pretentious movie star who thinks he’s too cool for all of it, which a tiny part of me can’t help but love!

  11. kri says:

    I loved him in his early films-and the Grosse Point era as well. I’m not going to shade the guy for the occasional wallet padding-they all do it. I also agree that child stars have it rough, especially if they have sh*tty parents and bad management-looking your way Scooter. I think he’s one of the few actors who go ther own way.

  12. Ash says:

    I know this sounds weird as a 25, almost 26 year old, but I’ve always found myself oddly attracted to John Cusack. I don’t know how old he is, but I know he’s probably old enough to be my father. I don’t have daddy issues either, my dad and I get along very well before anyone says that.

  13. HughJass says:

    Love him, always have.

  14. Redheadwriter says:

    I’ve heard great things about his role in Love and Mercy. I’m excited to see it!

  15. Dani says:

    He is old enough to be my father but I’ve seriously always loved him so much. Like, I still do. And even when he’s looking as rough as he is in that pic^ I would still happily do him. I follow him on twitter and he’s actually pretty intelligent/interesting. I could watch Serendipity over and over and over and over.

    • Ash says:

      I wrote something similar higher up. Good to know I’m not the only one.

      • mimif says:

        You both have Daddy Issues. The End.

        Just kidding, he’s hot. Fwiw, my first crush was Bill Murray, and I was like 8 years old. Although I’m 92, so I’m not sure my post is relevant.

      • Dani says:

        Mimif – I considered that hahaha if it gives me John Cusack fine, I have daddy issue.

  16. JM says:

    All I have to say is I want my 2 dollars!!!!!

    • mia girl says:

      I use that line all the time. 🙂

      • JM says:

        “Reminds me of the moonshine Ricky’s dead pappy used to make, God rest his”


        “Gee, I’m real sorry your mom blew up Ricky.”

        Better off Dead is still in my top 5 movies of all time!!!

      • mimif says:

        Two dollars. Cash.

        God that movie never gets old. Tentacles. N-T. Tentacles.

    • Ginger says:

      Awesome! I just said this line the other day and my friend didn’t get it. Sad. Either I’m getting old or she needs to see more 80’s films! (Maybe both) 🙂

  17. Mauibound says:

    I can’t remember when I haven’t loved John Cusack movies, even that goofy Hot tub time machine cracked me up. Then again being a teen in the 80’s as I was and seeing all these films that make fun of that time just kill me! Oh and If you haven’t seen it, the closing credits are the best part.

  18. Ginger says:

    LOL! I do follow him on Twitter and he does post interesting things.

  19. rudy says:

    Love John Cusack. Love love love. All his movies, from the beginning to now. Just saw one recently so bizarre – he ends up at some motel where practically everyone dies.