John Cusack has appeared in more than 50 movies in the course of his nearly 30-year film career, including iconic roles in such classics as “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “High Fidelity,” “Being John Malkovich” and “Con Air.”
But try as he might, he can never seem to outrun the cult of 1989 teen classic “Say Anything.” It was in that Cameron Crowe breakthrough that he created one of the most memorable movie freeze frames of all time as sad sack Lloyd Dobler, hoisting up a boombox outside of Ione Skye’s bedroom in a last ditch effort to win her love with some help from British prog icon Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
Cusack has gone on to great acclaim and fame in the years since, but he just can’t seem to shake the shadow of that trench coat. On Saturday night he came as close as he’s comfortable recreating it when he made a cameo at Gabriel’s Hollywood Bowl show celebrating the 25th anniversary of the former Genesis singer’s solo breakthrough album So.
The actor was at the show and while he wouldn’t slip into character himself, he was happy to hand off a boombox to Gabriel, who lifted it up before playing the tune.
That was way further than we got with Cusack in November 2009 when MTV Movies’ Josh Horowitz surprised the star during an interview about the movie “2012” with a cardboard boombox that he was hoping John would grab and throw up in the air like he just didn’t care.
When Horowitz grabbed the prop, an uncomfortable Cusack immediately said, “no, no, no, no, no, no no,” wagging his finger and adding, “I don’t have to do anything.” Horowitz tried to explain that outside his office just days before he’d seen a sea of young men paying tribute to Cusack’s Dobler on the occasion of the 20th anniversary reissue of the movie.
Shifting painfully in his seat, wincing and crossing his arms, Cusack demurred again, as co-star Amanda Peet offered to do the honors and Cusack begged her not to. “Just as long as I have nothing to do with it,” he said as Horowitz handed over the flat radio.
“Don’t make him do it again,” Peet asked Horowitz after the interrogator wondered if Cusack had a line in his contracts that prevented him from having to re-live the moment. “This is going in interesting places,” Horowitz interjected, trying to cut the tension as Cusack stared at the radio. “I’ve upset you.”
“No, no you haven’t upset me,” Cusack responded, denying Horowitz’s claim that he had a “visceral” reaction upon seeing the fake boombox. “What … what do you want me to do with it?” Cusack wondered. Horowitz said he didn’t have a specific plan in mind when he sprung it on John (yeah, right), but had simply wondered how Cusack felt hearing that dozens of young men had gotten their Dobler on that week and were still drawing inspiration from his actions of two decades on?
“I don’t know, that sounds a little … David Koresh-y,” Cusack said, referring to the late Texas cult leader. “Wasn’t it for Halloween or something?” As it turned out, no, it was to celebrate the 20th DVD release, which seemed to turn the tide for Cusack. “I love the movie, so I was so proud to be in it and I have nothing but great things to say about the movie … we took a bad turn,” he said of the bizarre interview.
After Peet finally lifted it up and then complained that she was lacking an overcoat to fully commit to the scene, she lovingly threw her arm around Cusack neck as he said, “we’ve now reached the completely surreal.”