John Cusack defends speaking out about politics, reflects on fame in new interview: 'I haven't really been hot for a long time'

Erin Donnelly
·3 mins read

With the election just a month away, a number of celebrities have made their political stances public — inevitably sparking a chorus of complaints that they should stay out of politics. But that’s nothing new to John Cusack, who has spent the past few years passionately tweeting about his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders and courting controversy on a number of hot-button topics. In a new interview with the Guardian, the actor dismisses any arguments that he shouldn’t speak out, or that he’s spoiled films for fans who disagree with his views.

John Cusack talks about fame and politics in a new interview. (Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
John Cusack talks about fame and politics in a new interview. (Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

“When you see children being ripped away from their mothers’ arms and put into kennels,” he told the newspaper, “I’m sorry if you think someone speaking out against that is someone not staying in their lane. But let’s agree that, if you can’t figure out that that’s fascism, then we don’t have anything more to say to each other, and I don’t have any respect for you, and we should probably not talk. I mean!”

As anyone familiar with his Twitter account can attest, the Say Anything and High Fidelity star is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, who he says once tapped him on the shoulder at a 2003 boxing match in Las Vegas because Melania was a fan.

“He’s an evil f*** and he grinds our faces in it every day,” Cusack told the paper of the man he claims made him recoil even then.

Despite his support of Sanders in the primaries, the Chicago-bred actor will be voting for Biden, he shared.

“You’re voting for an extension of the neoliberal order,” he said. “But the alternative is fascism. You have to vote against Trump.”

Of the election he added, “One hopes that sanity comes back. But, um, America is a bat-s**t-crazy place. So you just don’t know.”

Now starring in the Amazon Prime series Utopia, Cusack also reflected on the trajectory his career has taken, admitting, “I haven’t really been hot for a long time.”

Despite once starring in hits like Being John Malkovich and Con Air, the 54-year-old revealed that he’s struggled to “get projects financed,” musing, “that could be a function of getting older. Or it could be a function of being cold.”

Making movies is “brutal, transactional, superficial and dumb,” he added, citing the lackluster thrillers that have dominated his filmography of late,

“You may go make a film, you do all this work. And the movie sort of gets butchered in the editing room,” he explained. “And that happens, like ... nine times out of 10? So it’s not a very satisfying thing, if only one in 10 movies that you’re making work out the way they were planned.”

Fans of his more critically lauded work may not always agree with his politics — and Cusack admits he’d happily move on to discussing “poetry, love, anything else, but that’s just not the times we’re in” — but he has no intention of backing down.

“Not all anger is just sort of somebody stuck in some rut in a basement,” he said. “If you can’t be outraged on behalf of other people, or express anger at injustice, maybe that is its own rut. Sure, I might go too far sometimes. But I really just want to get across the message: that we’re sleepwalking into an incredibly dark possible future.

“Maybe being outspoken hurts your career … I’m just aware it helps me sleep better at night, knowing that I wasn’t passive during this time.”

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