Actor John Cusack, 45, claims his new role as 19 century poet Edgar Allan Poe is the role of his lifetime.

The film, which opens April 23, sees Cusack race to stop a serial killer from taking innocent lives in exactly the manner described in Poe's own sinister work.

Cusack, who can do no wrong for fans of his 80's classic Say Anything (listen up producers, he says he's still very eager to do a sequel of the latter) told the Huffington Post that most actors dream of playing a character as weird and neurotic as the famous poet.

"'There couldn't be a richer, more iconic character to play,' he said. 'So if I can find things like this I'm as happy as I can be.'

Preparation for the role involved altering his body shape and learning all of Poe's poetry(including a few well chosen biographies).

'I tried my hardest, I came back exhausted, weighing 187 pounds, stumbling around," the actor told the press. 'But we made sure to get him as complex and f***ed up as possible. It was like being on a bender. It was like being on a journey to the underworld artistically, and I thought it was exciting, but I didn't want to stay there.'

And after the film wrapped? 'Afterwards, you come out, and just hope that there's not a brick wall in front of you, and you put some throw mats down on the ground, and make no plans for about a month after.'

'What I really loved about 'The Raven' was that it was independently financed, so I felt like it was me and director James McTeigue making the movie,' Cusack said. 'Of course there are more people on set, but creatively and tonally - you don't have to satisfy a group of people.'

The Guardian's film critic describes The Raven as a cross between the slightly more cerebral Se7en and the sheer gore of movies like Saw.