John Cusak fights crime as Edgar Allan Poe in ‘The Raven’

John Cusack can’t say no to Poe.

He rides on horseback while wielding a gun, tracks down a serial killer, drinks (heavily), and composes morbid short stories when he’s not trying to save the girl. He is Edgar Allan Poe, action hero. Or not.

“He’s not an action hero, per se,” says John Cusack, who stars as this swashbuckling — yet still dementedly anguished — Poe in the new thriller “The Raven.” “Based on what we know of the man and his stories, it’s not a stretch to think of him trying to solve a mystery.”

Cusack realizes this take, whereupon literature’s favorite depressed and dark writer follows a serial killer whose murders are very similar to those described in his most famous stories (“The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Premature Burial” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” among others), uses some poetic license. But this “mashup” version, as Cusack defines it, is what attracted him to the role in the first place.

“A straight biopic would be boring — I love this mashup,” says Cusack with a slight gleam in his eye. “Poe was fascinating and multifaceted, but where the real drama comes in are the stories — his glorious stories!”

And, really, a biopic still wouldn’t be true to the man who Poe is, Cusack theorizes. “It would only be an amalgamation of what you think his life would be,” he claims, since so much mystery still surrounds the life and death of the writer. Cusack says he and director James McTeigue “figured we could paint a clearer picture of who and what he was when he becomes a character in his own stories.”

The star claims this mashup approach is very “Poe-esque.” “He writes about guys who are going crazy. He writes about dreams within dreams. ['The Raven'] is very Poe.”

And really, if you are an actor and don’t want to portray one of history’s most fascinating and layered characters — no matter how you decide to present it in a major Hollywood blockbuster — you should probably just retire. “Yeah, it’s time to give up,” Cusack agrees. “How can you say no to Poe?”

Cusack’s ticks

Cusack spent much of our interview talking about the idiosyncrasies of Poe, bouncing between his alcoholism, his writing, his loves (and the subsequent tragic deaths of those loves) and his addictions. But the actor also revealed his own tick: Puffing on an electronic cigarette, which he smoked throughout our conversation. When asked if he was trying to quit smoking, he said, “I actually quit 10 years ago.” So why the electronic variety? “This?” he questioned with a glance at his fake smoke. “I just think this is cool,” he said. And then puffed away.

Revamping history

“The Raven” is one of the first in a new cross-genre in film: famous figures in history put in fantastical situations. Now on Netflix Instant Play, you can check out “FDR: American Badass!,” in which a vengeful Franklin Delano Roosevelt rides a “wheelchair of death” to stop the world from werewolves who carry the polio virus. In theaters this June is the hotly anticipated film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” which features our 16th president slaying vamps while abolishing slavery. Also in production are two films fictionalizing the life of Leonardo Da Vinci: “Leonardo Da Vinci and the Soldiers of Forever,” which showcases the artist as a Renaissance-era Indiana Jones, and “Leonardo,” which is about “Da Vinci’s quest to stop Renaissance Europe from returning to the Dark Ages,” per Variety.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…