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Why Hollywood Won't Cast John Cusack Anymore

John Cusack has played some of the most beloved roles of all time. Even though technology has moved on, we'll never forget Lloyd Dobler's boom box serenade from Say Anything. Add to that Better Off Dead, Bullets Over Broadway, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity and many more, and Cusack has charmed audiences for decades. Though the versatile actor has been in the business for more than 30 years, his career isn't what it used to be — seemingly once ever-present at the cineplex, he's spent far more time in the direct-to-video business during recent years. Wondering whatever happened to this icon of '80s cinema? Let's take a look back and see why John Cusack hasn't graced our screens for a while.

John Cusack called Hollywood a 'whorehouse'

In an interview with The Guardian about his role in the Hollywood satire Map to the Stars, John Cusack was very frank about the strange, sometimes terrible world of Hollywood, saying that the old ways of filmmaking are gone and now everything revolves around franchises and huge stars. Though he says the industry was a bit kinder when he was coming up, now, "The culture just eats young actors up and spits them out. It's a hard thing to survive without finding safe harbor." It's easy to understand his seeming hesitation to fight for stardom in an industry he's lost trust in. Or as he summed up Hollywood, "It's a whorehouse and people go mad."

John Cusack is not 'putting on the tights'

Two years before John Cusack described Hollywood as "a whorehouse" to The Guardian, he told the same publication how he feels about superhero movies. "Sometimes I think I'm in control, but more and more I realize that it's just a complete farce. It's true, it used to be that if you did a big, big movie then you could leverage it and make some smaller, cooler ones, and I got away with that for a few years. But now, they just want you to put on tights—if you don't put on the tights, they just want to get rid of you. And I'm not putting on the tights, so you know..."

Granted, we don't think Hollywood was exactly banging down Cusack's door to read for Thor, but it's not like he's averse to starring in huge blockbuster films, as his work on Con Air and 2012 can attest. And it's also not as though respectable veteran actors like Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, and Anthony Hopkins haven't all "put on the tights," so to speak, and were able to retain their thespian cred. Perhaps Cusack just hasn't read the right comic books?

John Cusack has been professionally acting since he was 16

Before he went into films at the ripe old age of 16, John Cusack studied theater at the Piven Theater Workshop, taught by the parents of actor Jeremy Piven, whom Cusack has shared the screen with many times since. By 16, he landed a role in Class, then John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, and shortly thereafter starred in Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing. Since then, there's almost never been a year without a John Cusack picture. That's a difficult pace to keep up, and doing the same job since you were 16 might get a little tiring. At the very least, it isn't difficult to understand why John Cusack might no longer have the same drive he once did — once you've been in a number of huge hits and cult classics, the temptation to take it easy or start looking for roles in more esoteric fringe fare can be difficult to resist.

John Cusack has been writing films

Not content to coast on his acting abilities, John Cusack has also co-written a few of his most popular films, like High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank, proving his mastery of dark comedy and complicated characters. More recently, he co-wrote the political film War, Inc. Though it doesn't look like any of his screenplays are in the works at the moment, his forays into screenwriting offer further proof that he doesn't need to be in front of a camera to bring compelling characters to life. We wouldn't be surprised if Cusack has been using some of his time away from the cineplex to work on his next screenplay — or series of screenplays.

John Cusack founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation

John Cusack isn't your typical actor interested in the political world. His politics are strong, and he does a lot more than retweet a trending hashtag to make himself heard. In 2010, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal all stopped taking payments from Wikileaks. The fact that major payment organizations could deal such a blow to Wikileaks as a way to silence an unfavorable arm of the press didn't sit well with a number of people, including Cusack. So they set up the Freedom of the Press Foundation in response.

The Foundation's main goal is to keep hard-hitting journalism alive and protect the privacy of the journalists willing to deal with potentially dangerous subjects. Through crowdfunding, they help different press organizations stay afloat regardless of outside pressures. Cusack has written articles for the site and is clearly passionate about the issue of freedom of speech.

John Cusack wrote political articles and a book about Edward Snowden

The Freedom of the Press Foundation isn't Cusack's only political activity. He's written over 20 articles for the Huffington Post, including one from 2008 about how a McCain/Palin presidency would be worse than Bush/Cheney. In 2014, he traveled to Russia with Arundhati Roy and Daniel Ellsberg to meet with Edward Snowden. Roy and Cusack wrote a series of essays about their conversations with Snowden which they formed into the book Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. Cusack is still devoted to activism and it's obvious he's not happy just resting on his celebrity; he wants to make a real difference.

John Cusack may have alienated some fans

John Cusack is an outspoken social and political activist, so it should be no surprise that he's had a few opinions about the current political climate. And like many celebrities who voice support or opposition to a politician, Cusack's amateur punditry doesn't usually make waves. But in June 2017, his tweet of a photo that featured the quote "YER DEAD—GET YERSELF BURIED" along with the caption ""Message for trump" angered many conservatives.

Cusack quickly deleted the tweet and reposted the photo with the caption "Message to GOP rob health care give tax breaks to rich bill -from "sweet smell of success yr soon out of power" He also clarified that he was using a quote from the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success, but some detractors weren't buying it. Fox Nation contributor Todd Starnes posted a screencap of the original tweet and likened it to "faux jihadist Kathy Griffin" and her ill-advised Trump decapitation photo. Cusack's Twitter mentions filled up with folks who took offense.

Whether John Cusack alienated enough fans to have an impact on his box office returns and therefore become a significant studio liability remains to be seen, but it's clear that for at least some of his followers on Twitter, his anti-Trump rhetoric was a bridge too far.

John Cusack is aging out of the rom-com

John Cusack started out as a teenage heartthrob, playing the sweet, slightly nerdy guy who'd do anything for his girl. But nobody can play the handsome leading man forever. Though Cusack often branched out to do less mainstream work like Being John Malkovich and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, he kept taking lead roles—and those movies got worse and worse. Sure, High Fidelity was hilarious, but he also made Must Love Dogs, Serendipity, and 2012. It seems that mainstream Hollywood wants to put him in leading roles in dull action flicks or rom-coms, whereas Cusack clearly wants to go in a different direction, like the killer roles he played in The Frozen Ground and The Paperboy. When Hollywood only wants to see you play the same thing over and over again, it's no wonder Cusack is a little shy to keep taking on huge leads.

John Cusack pays attention to Twitter and his fans

John Cusack may not like Hollywood, but that doesn't mean he feels the same way about his fans. Phoenix Askani of Thought Catalog shared a story about how she met him on an airplane. A huge fan, Askani was too nervous to talk to him; instead, she tweeted "Oh my god, @JohnCusack is on my flight. I should tell him how I almost lost my virginity to Say Anything..." A while later, Cusack came up to her seat and playfully asked, "How exactly do you ALMOST lose your virginity to Say Anything?" Askani told her story and said she was a huge fan, and at the end of the flight, Cusack gave her a hug as they disembarked. Who else in the biz comes across so well grounded and down-to-Earth?

John Cusack is acting in lots of movies...that go straight to video

Though John Cusack hasn't been in as many blockbusters lately, that doesn't mean he's given up acting. In fact, Cusack's been making tons of movies. Between 2012 and 2016, he made a whopping 17 films. The reason you might not be aware of his great productivity is that most of them wind up going straight to VOD or DVD—and some have been pretty unimpressive, like Reclaim or the fake-sounding Drive Hard. More than one of the films he's released since 2014 have been saddled with ratings below 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. He continues to make edgy indies and action thrillers, but none seem to give him the comeback his fans are looking for.

John Cusack is busy dodging questions about marriage

John Cusack has dated a lot of women over the course of his career, but as he gets older he gets more and more questions about why he hasn't settled down. In an interview with Elle, Cusack was asked why he never got married. He replied "Society doesn't tell me what to do." So, if you were hoping to be Mrs. Cusack, you might want to let that dream go — and more importantly, the absence of the type of domestic stability that tends to come with marriage could also be a factor in his recent career trajectory. Without anyone else to support and no spouse putting demands on his time, he's free to do whatever he wants whenever the mood strikes him — and clearly, ending up on the big screen is no longer as much of a priority as it once was.

John Cusack is not into waiting around for Hollywood

During a panel discussion at C2E2 (Via CBR), Cusack encouraged aspiring filmmakers to just do their own thing and not wait around for the Hollywood machine to greenlight their projects. "If you go to L.A. to make films, you're going to L.A. to ask for permission to make films from the studios," Cusack said, adding, "Now you can go out and shoot films with your iPhone. Once you have films that you made, you can go to L.A. and meet people."

Cusack also told The Guardian, "There is no Hollywood anymore—there's just a bunch of banks...Hollywood is just a bunch of people going around in Learjets to other people asking them if they've got any money."

That's not exactly a rosy view of the industry, but it could explain his workhorse-like approach to filmmaking in the last few years which has seen him starring in films like Dragon Blade, a Jackie Chan film that didn't even try to make money in the U.S. Released in just 14 American theaters, Dragon Blade still raked in an impressive $121 million in international box office returns. Clearly, Cusack found a way to keep making films in a whole new market. Maybe Hollywood should put him—or at least his strategy—to work behind the scenes.

John Cusack's good films don't attract a lot of attention

Though John Cusack has certainly starred in a number of poor films in recent years, they haven't been all bad. In 2015, he starred as an older Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy, a biopic about the Beach Boys co-founder. The film received excellent reviews, with many praising Cusack's fine work in particular, but the film only made $12 million domestically, and though there was some speculation about a potential Oscar nomination, Cusack came up short. He wasn't nominated for a single award the entire season, and the film itself was shut out, too. Ultimately, while his work in the movie may have reminded some people of Cusack's still-formidable talent, it wasn't a springboard into more high-profile roles. 

Things to come

Though his star may not shine as brightly at the moment, John Cusack won't be fading into the background anytime soon. His political writing and activism will surely keep him busy in the next few years, and he's continued to maintain his prolific streak of indie and direct-to-video features — between 2016 and 2019, he starred in seven films, an impressive body of work even if the majority of moviegoers remained unaware of most of it.

Cusack is also branching out into television. Like a number of actors in recent years, he's embraced the opportunity to delve into longer-form storytelling — specifically via Utopia, an Amazon series about a group of teens whose online friendships are shadowed by a government organization that starts hunting them down after they stumble across evidence of a conspiracy. Without giving away any plot details that might have drawn him to the project, Cusack has said he was intrigued by the opportunity to work outside the runtime restrictions of film; as he put it, "You don't have to cram to put things into an hour and a half, two hours."