What he doesn’t know is that the romance has already blossomed and that Emily (played by Alice Eve) is already in love.
It’s an unlikely role for Gleeson because for most of The Raven he plays an upper class bully. That means banking down his own personal charisma and playing against type, which he does so successfully you’ll be hard placed to remember that this is the same actor that we know from his recent hit The Guard. So with Gleeson stymied by his dry as dust character, it falls to Cusack to provide comic relief.
“People didn’t know how funny Poe was or how he often wrote satires on different styles of writing,” Cusack explains. “He wrote beautiful love poetry. Sometimes he just wrote pulp fiction for the Saturday evening papers. He was very calculating in that way and very good at it.”
Cusack, who was born in Chicago, comes from a big family of Irish American actors (his sister Joan is the next best known face). With the exception of his mother, who is a schoolteacher, the Cusacks are all still involved in show business.
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Cusack himself came to prominence in the 1980’s starring in classic teenage hits like Sixteen Candles and Say Anything. But he’s never taken the expected route, saying no to comedies and romantic leads in every safe but dull project that’s come along.
Instead he’s crafted a totally unique career path, and has become one of the most respected actors of his generation in the process.
“All of Poe’s work has to do with loss,” Cusack explains. “It comes from his feeling of being an orphan in the world. He lost his mother, he lost his stepmother, and he lost his wife too. He suffered quite a bit circumstantially.
“I think he was also personally too highly strung, he wasn’t wired right. He’s an addict, he an aristocrat, he’s a pauper, he’s charming, and he’s weird. We learn all that about him early on in the film.”
Mark Chapman once claimed he was inspired by J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher In The Rye to shoot John Lennon. Is Cusack worried that The Raven might inspire some murderous nut in reality the way it does on screen?
“If the guy who shot John Lennon had been inspired by my work that would probably make me think about what I did, but I don’t think artists can or should ever censor themselves ever,” he says.
It a serious answer, and Cusack will always give one if asked. It’s why he was the perfect choice for the role.
The Raven opens nationwide on April 27.
Here's the trailer: