It’s John Cusack‘s birthday! To mark the occasion, here are five of his overlooked or lesser-known performances. Check some of these out!
Often forgotten when discussing the best Hollywood adaptation of Stephen King’s works (and there aren’t many), 1408 is an underrated gem, highlighting King’s ability to inflict as much psychological horror as he is guts and gore. Cusack plays Mike Enslin, an author who makes a living debunking supernatural phenomena. Room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel is meant to be just another job, but the haunted room soon becomes a prison of terror. Cusack gives an incredibly strong performance as a man dealing with skepticism and grief as his own madness begins to take over. A genuinely creepy film that deserves more love.
I remember going in to watch this at the theater when it was released and I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen. Ten strangers arrive at a motel and are soon killed off one by one by a mysterious force. Cusack stars as Ed Dakota, a former police officer who gets stranded at the motel and tries to solve the murders before he is the next victim. Yes, there is plenty here to compare to a classic Agatha Christie mystery, but Identity is so much more than your run of the mill “who is the killer?” thriller. The twists and turns that this movie takes will definitely keep you guessing. Whatever you do, don’t spoil yourself going in.
America’s Sweethearts (2001)
Perhaps not as well known as some of Cusack’s other rom-coms, America’s Sweethearts showcases Cusack as Eddie Thomas, a jittery, unstable actor who has recently divorced his high profile wife, actress Gwen Harrison. The two have made a career out of filming movies together, and they’re forced to do a press junky as one last hurrah for their latest, and last film. While dealing with unresolved feelings for his ex-wife, there is also Gwen’s sister Kiki, who has harbored a crush on Eddie for a while. America’s Sweethearts is full of slapstick, often juvenile humor and characters that you find you can’t always root for, but it’s still an funny, entertaining ride with an incredible cast.
Stand By Me (1986)
Rob Reiner’s classic coming of age story is probably best known for the young actors who portrayed the four boys who set off on a journey to see a dead body. It would probably be easy to forget that John Cusack was ever in this movie, and while he only appears in flashbacks, his role is incredibly important. As Denny Lachance, Gordy’s deceased brother, Cusack’s presence is felt in the film even when he’s not on screen. He was a brother to look up to, one that treated Gordy with respect and affection. He was also the son their parents favored and with Denny’s death, not only did Gordy lose his brother, but he lost his parents as well. Denny’s flashbacks are brief, but in those few moments, you can truly appreciate what Gordy lost, and how Denny’s memory pushes Gordy to find his own way.
Say Anything… (1986)
So I know that Say Anything… is probably John Cusack’s best known role, and for good reason, but I’m going to include it here anyway because it’s also my favorite. As Lloyd Dobbler, Cusack absolutely shines as a lovelorn teenager who finally takes a chance and scores a date with his dream girl, the studious Diane Court. Thanks to Cusack’s charm, humor, and sensitivity, Lloyd Dobbler has since become an icon for underachiever’s everywhere, not to mention the cultural influence that the infamous boombox scene has had on movies and television. Say Anything… is arguably one of the best romance movies of all time and if Cusack is going to be forever known for one role, it would be hard to find one more memorable than Lloyd Dobbler.
What are some of your favorite films to feature birthday boy John Cusack?