You might know John Cusack as the U.S. Marshal in “Con Air,” a 1997 Jerry Bruckheimer action thriller, but he has not been in Hollywood lately. That is not to say that the actor has not been in the film industry that has pushed John Cusack’s net worth to $50 million.
He would be worth much more if he won the lawsuit filed against two production units for canceling “Stopping Power” in 2007. He alleged he should have been paid $4.5 million even if the film was not produced, but the suit was dismissed.
All the same, he has utilized his acting, writing, producing, and directing talents to accumulate millions, as seen below.
Inspired to be an Actor
Cusack was born to Richard and Nancy Cusack. Richard was artistically-gifted; after serving in the Army Force in World War II, his first job was writing speeches for General Electric.
He later quit to venture into advertising and climbed the ladder to become the creative director of Post, Keyes & Gardner in Chicago. Richard got tired of advertising, saying there were much bigger issues than telling people to brush their teeth with Colgate or Palmolive.
He, therefore, founded his own film production company in 1970 and stumbled into acting while also writing plays; one of his films won an Emmy in 1971. Although Richard passed in 2003 at the age of 77, he left behind five children. According to The New York Times, they were all inspired by their father’s adventurous and artistic nature.
Consequently, Cusack began his interest in acting when he was a child. Although he was a bright student, he was very stubborn, attending classes whenever he pleased. As The Washington Post published, Cusack could barely manage to score Cs in algebra.
However, he was passionate about acting; therefore, he auditioned for a part in “Hamlet” in high school. Unfortunately, his teacher was not impressed because Cusack could not bend to his will. Due to his bruised ego, Cusack did not bother auditioning for other parts in high school plays.
Instead, he continued perfecting his acting skills at the Piven Theatre Workshop, an Evanston-based theater group co-founded by Joyce Piven and her husband, Byrne. He had been attending the work since he was nine. Piven remembered that Cusack spoke so softly that his father was concerned, wondering if the young boy would make it in the acting industry if he could not raise his voice to be heard by those in the back.
Becoming a Hollywood Actor
His first movie role was in “Class.” He was still in high school, and he bagged it during summer vacation. After landing another small part in “Sixteen Candles,” he got his first lead role in “The Sure Thing.” According to The Guardian, he was in three of the greatest teen movies.
He then broke away from the teenage roles when he was cast in the “Eight Men Out” film, alongside his father. However, Cusack still played a high school senior who had just graduated in “Say Anything.” Till now, the actor’s fans ask him about the movie, especially regarding the boombox scene.
Although he continued landing different roles, such as in “The Grifters,” that cast him in a different light from the teen idol status the audience had grown used to, he was still not an A-list celebrity actor. He might have won the most promising award for his portrayal of Llyod Dabbler in “Say Anything,” but he was far from reaching the heights of stardom.
Finding the right parts
David Thomson, a British film critic, once remarked that Cusack’s career was an endless struggle of finding the right parts. The film critic added that he would not be surprised to see the actor winning an Oscar, probably for supporting actor. Well, Thomson was right.
Although Cusack did not win an Oscar, he won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014 for a supporting role. The only time the actor came close to winning a major award was when he was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy, but he lost to George Clooney.
His Hollywood career faded, mostly because he shared his criticism, calling Hollywood a whorehouse. He added that he was not ready to put on tights to be cast in some of the roles, and needless to say, since then, you will catch him in the video on demand films.
Such films are profitable if a high-profile star like Cusack is cast. They can rake in over $50 million, which translates to huge paychecks for the lead actors.
Starting His Film Production Company
By 1989, Cusack had been in 12 films, and he was not interested in Hollywood. He said that most Hollywood films were a genre, meaning that they lacked creativity and integrity and were a means of making money off another person’s original idea.
Cusack added that he had been given such movie scripts, and they made him question if he wanted to be an actor. He, therefore, dabbled in directing and producing plays. In the summer of 1988, he was in Chicago, directing a play, “Alagazam…After the Dog Wars.”
In 1989, Cusack also directed “Methusalem.” Both plays were produced by the actor’s New Criminals Theatre Company. Coupled with his acting salary, Cusack was banking lots of lucrative checks. He came across the satirical improvisational form of entertainment in the late 1980s in Los Angeles.
He and his friend, Jeremy Piven, watched Actors’ Gang. They were so impressed that the two young men began hanging out with the group. Cusack was inspired by the style of comedy. Thus, he went to the Theatre du Soleil in Paris to watch the performers.
He returned to Chicago and collaborated with Jeremy and another friend, Steve Pink, to establish a company; thus, New Crimes Theatre Company and New Crime Productions were born. He did not get to produce some movies based on box-office viability.
According to Los Angeles Times, one reputable director staked $40 million and could not risk his investment with Cusack; he preferred other established actors like Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, or Tom Hanks. All the same, Cusack managed to grab directorial and production roles in low-budget films, enabling him to bank more millions.
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Written by Allen Lee
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