John Cusack
Cusack in 2014
John Paul Cusack

(1966-06-28) June 28, 1966 (age 57)
  • Actor
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1983–present
RelativesAnn Cusack (sister)
Joan Cusack (sister)

John Paul Cusack (/ˈkjuːsæk/; born June 28, 1966)[1] is an American actor, producer and screenwriter. He is a son of filmmaker Dick Cusack and the younger brother of actresses Joan and Ann Cusack.

Cusack began acting in films during the 1980s, starring in coming-of-age dramedies such as Sixteen Candles (1984), The Sure Thing (1985), Better Off Dead (1985), and Say Anything... (1989). He then started appearing in independent films such as Eight Men Out (1988), The Grifters (1990), True Colors (1991), and Bullets Over Broadway (1994). Cusack began appearing as a leading man in such film as the comedic films Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), the action thriller Con Air (1997), the animated musical Anastasia (1997), the psychological drama Being John Malkovich (1999), and the romantic comedies High Fidelity (2000), America's Sweethearts (2001), Serendipity (2001), and Must Love Dogs (2005). He also starred in Runaway Jury (2003), Grace Is Gone (2007), Martian Child (2007), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), The Butler (2013), Maps to the Stars (2014), and Chi-Raq (2015). He portrayed Brian Wilson in the critically acclaimed musical biopic Love and Mercy (2015).

Early life

Cusack was born in Evanston, Illinois into an Irish Catholic family. His parents are writer-actor-producer and documentary filmmaker Richard J. "Dick" Cusack (1925–2003), originally from New York City,[2][3][4] and Ann Paula "Nancy" Cusack (née Carolan; 1929–2022),[5] originally from Massachusetts, a former mathematics teacher and political activist.[2][6] John's older sisters, Ann and Joan, are also actors. Cusack has two other siblings, Bill and Susie.[2] The family moved from Manhattan, New York, to Illinois[7][8] and were friends of activist Philip Berrigan.[9] Cusack graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1984, where he met Jeremy Piven,[10] and spent a year at New York University before dropping out, saying that he had "too much fire in his belly".[11]


Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Cusack began acting in films in the early 1980s. He made his breakout role in Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing (1985). He also starred in Cameron Crowe's directorial debut film, Say Anything... (1989). Cusack played a con artist in Stephen Frears' 1990 neo-noir film The Grifters. After establishing New Crime Productions, Cusack co-wrote the screenplay for and starred in George Armitage's crime film Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), in which he played an assassin who goes to his 10-year high school reunion to win back his high school sweetheart.[12]

In Spike Jonze's fantasy film Being John Malkovich (1999), Cusack played a puppeteer who finds a portal leading into the mind of the eponymous actor, John Malkovich. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Director (Jonze), Best Original Screenplay (Charlie Kaufman) and Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener). Cusack was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in High Fidelity (2000), based on Nick Hornby's novel, and also appeared in America's Sweethearts (2001), Serendipity (2001), Identity (2003), Runaway Jury (2003), Must Love Dogs (2005), The Ice Harvest (2005), The Contract (2006), Grace Is Gone (2007), 1408 (2007), Martian Child (2007), War, Inc. (2008).[citation needed]

Cusack starred as Jackson Curtis in Roland Emmerich's epic disaster film 2012 (2009), a struggling novelist who attempts to save his family during a global cataclysm.[13]

Cusack also played Edgar Allan Poe in James McTeigue's biopic film The Raven (2012) and starred in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars (2014).[14]

Later, he starred in video on demand films, including The Factory, The Numbers Station, The Frozen Ground, Grand Piano (2013), Drive Hard (2014), The Prince (2014), Reclaim (2014), Cell (2016), Arsenal (2017), Blood Money (2017), and Singularity (2017).[citation needed]

In 2014, Cusack criticized Hollywood saying the mega-corporations have stepped in with 50-producer movies, franchises are king, and stars are used as leverage. He called Hollywood, "a whorehouse and people go mad."[15]

Political views

Cusack at Huffington Post Pre-Inaugural Party in January 2009

He is anti-war, having tweeted, "Being anti-war — is pro-troops — pro-human".[16][17] Between 2005 and 2009, Cusack wrote blogs for The Huffington Post, which included an interview with Naomi Klein. He voiced his opposition to the war in Iraq and Bush's administration, calling the government's worldview "depressing, corrupt, unlawful, and tragically absurd".[18] He also appeared in a June 2008 advertisement, where he said that George W. Bush and John McCain had the same governing priorities.[19]

Cusack criticized the Obama administration for its drone policy in the Middle East and its support of the National Defense Authorization Act, and became one of the initial supporters of the Freedom of the Press Foundation in 2012. In June 2015, he stated in an interview with The Daily Beast that "when you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, [Obama] is as bad or worse than Bush".[20] He later criticized the publication for misquoting him in order to make an interesting headline.[21][22]

In 2015, Cusack, Daniel Ellsberg and Arundhati Roy met Edward Snowden, who had fled the US because of his leaks of classified information surrounding illegal population surveillance, at a Moscow hotel room.[23] This meeting was converted into a book co-authored with Roy titled Things That Can and Cannot Be Said.[24]

Cusack endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids.[25][26] He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[27]

During the 2014 Israel Gaza conflict, Cusack supported the Palestinians on social media.[28][29] One tweet read, "Bombing people who can't escape not [sic] defense – does not mean one supports Hamas means to be against murder as solution to political problem."[citation needed]

In 2018, after Lorde cancelled performances in Israel after a request from the BDS movement, Cusack was among more than one hundred writers, actors, director, and musicians who signed a letter defending Lorde's freedom of conscience.[30][31]

In June 2019, Cusack wrote a tweet featuring an image of a large fist with a blue Star of David crushing a small crowd of people next to a quote often misattributed to Voltaire: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize".[32][33][34] In the tweet, Cusack added the words "Follow the money." He said that the tweet was meant to criticize Israel’s policies against Palestinians. He later apologized saying that "antisemitism has no place in any rational political dialogue" and deleted the tweet.[35][36][37][38][32]

Personal life

Cusack trained in kickboxing under former world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez for over twenty years. He began training under Urquidez in preparation for his role in Say Anything... and holds the rank of a level six black belt in Urquidez's Ukidokan Kickboxing system.[39]

In March 2008, police arrested Emily Leatherman outside Cusack's Malibu, California home for stalking him. On October 10, 2008, Leatherman pleaded no contest and received five years' probation and mandatory psychiatric counseling, and was ordered to stay away from Cusack, his home, and business for the next ten years.[40]

When asked in a 2009 interview why he had never married, Cusack answered, "Society doesn't tell me what to do."[41]


Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Class Roscoe
1984 Sixteen Candles Bryce
1984 Grandview, U.S.A. Johnny Maine
1985 The Sure Thing Walter "Gib" Gibson
1985 Better Off Dead Lane Myer
1985 The Journey of Natty Gann Harry
1986 Stand by Me Dennis "Denny" Lachance
1986 One Crazy Summer Hoops McCann
1987 Hot Pursuit Dan Bartlett
1987 Broadcast News Angry Messenger
1988 Tapeheads Ivan Alexeev
1988 Eight Men Out Buck Weaver
1989 Say Anything... Lloyd Dobler
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Michael Merriman
1990 The Grifters Roy Dillon
1991 True Colors Peter Burton
1991 Shadows and Fog Student Jack
1992 Roadside Prophets Caspar
1992 The Player Himself Cameo
1992 Map of the Human Heart The Mapmaker
1992 Bob Roberts Cutting Edge Host
1993 Money for Nothing Joey Coyle
1994 Floundering JC
1994 Bullets Over Broadway David Shayne
1994 The Road to Wellville Charles Ossining
1996 City Hall Kevin Calhoun
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Martin Q. Blank Also co-writer and producer
1997 Con Air Vince Larkin
1997 Chicago Cab Scary Man
1997 Anastasia Dimitri Voice role
1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Kelso
1998 This Is My Father Eddie Sharp
1998 The Thin Red Line Capt. Gaff
1999 Pushing Tin Nick Falzone
1999 Cradle Will Rock Nelson Rockefeller
1999 Being John Malkovich Craig Schwartz
2000 High Fidelity Rob Gordon Also co-writer and producer
2001 America's Sweethearts Eddie Thomas
2001 Serendipity Jonathan Trager
2002 Max Max Rothman Also associate producer
2002 Adaptation Himself Uncredited cameo
2003 Identity Edward "Ed" Dakota
2003 Runaway Jury Nicholas Easter
2005 Must Love Dogs Jake Anderson
2005 The Ice Harvest Charlie Arglist
2006 The Contract Ray Keene Direct-to-video
2007 Grace Is Gone Stanley Philipps Also producer
2007 1408 Michael "Mike" Enslin
2007 Martian Child David Gordon
2008 War, Inc. Brand Hauser Also co-writer and producer
2008 Igor Igor Voice role
2009 2012 Jackson Curtis
2010 Hot Tub Time Machine Adam Yates Also producer
2010 Shanghai Paul Soames Direct-to-video
2012 The Raven Edgar Allan Poe
2012 The Paperboy Hillary Van Wetter
2012 The Factory Mike Fletcher Direct-to-video
2013 The Numbers Station Emerson Kent Direct-to-video
2013 The Frozen Ground Robert Hansen Direct-to-video
2013 The Butler Richard Nixon
2013 Grand Piano Clem
2013 We Are Not Animals Tony Lovecraft Also co-writer and executive producer
2013 Adult World Rat Billings
2014 The Bag Man Jack Direct-to-video
2014 Maps to the Stars Stafford Weiss
2014 Drive Hard Simon Keller Direct-to-video
2014 The Prince Sam Direct-to-video
2014 Love & Mercy Brian Wilson
2014 Reclaim Benjamin Direct-to-video
2015 Dragon Blade Lucius
2015 Chi-Raq Fr. Mike Corridan
2016 Boom Bust Boom Self Documentary
2016 Cell Clayton Riddell Also executive producer; direct-to-video
2017 Arsenal Sal Direct-to-video
2017 Blood Money Miller Direct-to-video
2017 Singularity Elias van Dorne Direct-to-video
2018 Distorted Vernon Sarsfield
2018 River Runs Red Horace Direct-to-video
2019 Never Grow Old Dutch Albert
2022 Pursuit John Calloway Direct-to-video


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Frasier Greg Voice role; Episode: "Our Father Whose Art Ain't Heaven"
1999 The Jack Bull Myrl Redding Television film; also executive producer
2014 Doll & Em John Episode: "Three"
2020 Utopia Dr. Kevin Christie 8 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1989 Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Actor Say Anything... Won
1999 Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead Being John Malkovich Nominated
1999 Online Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Being John Malkovich Nominated
1999 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Being John Malkovich Nominated
2000 American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) High Fidelity Nominated
2000 BAFTA Best Adapted Screenplay High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Empire Awards Best Actor High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Teen Choice Awards Choice Hissy Fit High Fidelity Nominated
2000 University of Southern California Scripter Award High Fidelity Nominated
2000 Writers Guild of America Best Adapted Screenplay High Fidelity Nominated
2001 American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) High Fidelity Nominated
2007 Saturn Awards Best Actor 1408 Nominated
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor – Sci-Fi 2012 Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Butler Nominated
2014 Canadian Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Maps to the Stars Won


  1. ^ (28 June 1996). Today's birthdays, Santa Cruz Sentinel, ("Actors John Cusack is 30")
  2. ^ a b c "Cusack, Richard J.[obituary]". Chicago Tribune. June 3, 2003. Archived from the original on September 29, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2010. Richard J. Cusack, writer/producer/actor, beloved husband of Nancy, nee Carolan; loving father of Ann, Joan (Richard) Burke, Bill, John and Susie
  3. ^ Alstead, Robert (December 16, 2003). "John Cusack Takes Five [interview]". UK: iofilm. Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2017. Born into an Irish Catholic family in the Chicago suburb of Evanston in 1966, Cusack's father, Dick, was an actor and documentary maker and his mother, Nancy, a teacher. His sisters, Joan and Susie are actors....
  4. ^ "John Cusack Interview-Max Movie". Hollywood Movies. Archived from the original on August 16, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2015. I was raised Catholic....
  6. ^ "Miss Carolan, Newton Centre, Is Bride of Richard Cusack". Daily Boston Globe. February 14, 1960.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Newton Girl Plans February Wedding". Daily Boston Globe. December 6, 1959.
  8. ^ "Being John Cusack." July 1, 2000.
  9. ^ "Actor John johan on Hitler, politics and his movie 'Max'."
  10. ^ Johnson, Grace (May 12, 2009). "ETHS boasts celebrity graduates". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Duthel, C. (2012). Angelina Jolie – The Lightning Star. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-4710-8935-0.
  12. ^ "Actor John Cusack." NPR.
  13. ^ Simmons, Leslie (May 19, 2008). "John Cusack ponders disaster flick". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  14. ^ "Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Sarah Gadon Join Robert Pattinson and in Maps to the Stars". April 18, 2013. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  15. ^ Barnes, Henry H. (September 25, 2014). "John Cusack: 'Hollywood is a whorehouse and people go mad'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Kline, Jennifer (May 23, 2019). "John Cusack Tells Trump Fans: 'You Don't Support Troops More Than Me'".
  17. ^ Stimson, Brie (May 23, 2019). "John Cusack defends not standing 'fast enough' for Wrigley Field military salute". Fox News.
  18. ^ John Cusack – Politics on The Huffington Post.
  19. ^ "John Cusack Stars In MoveOn's New McCain Ad". Huffington Post. Associated Press. June 11, 2008.
  20. ^ Stern, Marlow (June 4, 2015). "John Cusack Talks 'Love & Mercy,' Drug Trips, and the Ways Obama Is 'Worse Than Bush'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  21. ^ Cusack, John [@johncusack] (June 4, 2015). "Shame on u – whomever is doing headlines & editing the interview for taking a long conversation abt Brian Wilson" (Tweet). Retrieved June 7, 2015 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Cusack, John [@johncusack] (June 4, 2015). "the headlines are full of shit" (Tweet). Retrieved June 7, 2015 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Roy, Arundhati (November 28, 2015). "Edward Snowden meets Arundhati Roy and John Cusack: 'He was small and lithe, like a house cat'". The Guardian. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  24. ^ Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. Penguin Books. October 5, 2016.
  25. ^ John Cusack [@johncusack] (August 25, 2015). "Why I Endorse Bernie Sanders" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Cusack, John [@johncusack] (February 19, 2019). "Join @OurRevolution Bernie wants 1 mill people in every state committed to changing America" (Tweet). Retrieved February 20, 2019 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Cusack, John [@johncusack] (November 9, 2017). "What you mean join ;)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Sullivan, Gail (August 5, 2014). "Celebrities get nasty over Gaza and Israel". The Washington Post.
  29. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (August 1, 2014). "Madonna lobs shirtless pics in celebs' Israel-Gaza opinion campaign". Los Angeles Times.
  30. ^ Letters (January 5, 2018). "Lorde's artistic right to cancel gig in Tel Aviv | Letters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  31. ^ Ritman, Alex (June 28, 2018). "Filmmakers Back Right to Boycott Israel Following German Festival Controversy". The Hollywood Reporter.
  32. ^ a b Pulver, Andrew (June 18, 2019). "John Cusack under fire for antisemitic 'follow the money' tweet". The Guardian. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  33. ^ "John Cusack: Actor apologises for anti-Semitic tweet". BBC. June 18, 2019.
  34. ^ Hunt, Elle (November 27, 2015). "Cory Bernardi mistakenly 'quotes' Voltaire on Twitter with neo-Nazi's line". The Guardian.
  35. ^ Spiro, Amy (June 18, 2019). "John Cusack Slammed for Antisemitic Retweet". The Jerusalem Post.
  36. ^ "John Cusack Slammed After Posting 'pro-Palestinian' Meme With neo-Nazi Quote". Haaretz. June 18, 2019.
  37. ^ Moniusko, Sara M (June 18, 2019). "John Cusack apologizes for re-tweeting anti-Semitic image after initially blaming 'bot'". USA Today. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  38. ^ Andrews-Dyer, Helena (June 18, 2019). "John Cusack apologizes for anti-Semitic tweet — after defending why he posted it". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  39. ^ Ukidokan Black Belts and Levels Archived March 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. URL accessed on March 19, 2010.
  40. ^ Accused John Cusack stalker, Emily Leatherman, accepts plea deal Archived February 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. New York Daily News. October 10, 2008.
  41. ^ Goldman, Andrew (November 23, 2009). "Being John Cusack". Elle. Retrieved January 20, 2018.

Further reading