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Cusack likes intricacy of 'Shanghai'

JOHN Cusack, famous American actor and screenwriter, is best known by Chinese audiences for his performance in the 2009 disaster blockbuster "2012."

Born in 1966 in Evanston, Illinois, Cusack's father Dick Cusack was also an actor and a documentary filmmaker, who owned a film production company. Cusack made his film debut at the age of 17 in the romantic comedy "Class." Since then he has appeared in several teen movies such as "Sixteen Candles," "The Sure Thing," "Better Off Dead" and "One Crazy Summer."

Cusack broadened his roles when he appeared in the neo-noir film "The Grifters." In 1994, he starred in Woody Allen's comedy "Bullets Over Broadway."

He played Jackson Curtis in the film "2012," a science fiction novelist who also works as a limousine driver. The film ranked No. 1 at the international box office with a take of US$225 million for its opening weekend. It earned 460 million yuan (US$67.36 million) in China, becoming the box-office champion for 2009, beating "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and the domestically made "The Founding of a Republic."

The period drama "Shanghai" is the first time Cusack has cooperated with big Chinese names like Gong Li and Chow Yun-fat. Cusack plays an American who returns to Shanghai in the months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor to investigate the death of his friend. During his investigation he discovers a secret kept by the US government. The film was released on June 17 during the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival. On his journey to promote it, Cusack talked with Shanghai Daily about his first-ever experience with Chinese stars.

Q: Why did you take this role in "Shanghai"?

A: It's a high-quality script with high-quality characters. The US usually doesn't make movies like this now; it's mostly about superheroes ... For me it was a very easy decision to make this special film.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you faced while making this film?

A: The challenge would be when you have a good script but not much time. Time pressure is always a challenge. Also the film was shot in Bangkok and it was different.

Q: How about the script?

A: The original script is terrific. Sometimes you feel you need to keep working all the time, but the original is the best. You need to stop working and go back to the original ideas.

Q: In your eyes, what is the most touching part in the film?

A: I like the complexity. There's no character that is simply good or bad. The characters are filled with contradictions. The story is much more like a literary novel. The most touching part is in the relationships, the emotions in the end when they take off their masks. The entire plot is centered not around politics, but jealousy. The love in this film is rich and complicated.

Q: What is your impression of Gong Li before and after cooperating with her?

A: I was very nervous to work with her. I have seen her films in the United States and I thought she made some masterpieces. She usually plays a woman of power. After meeting in person, I found out how warm and funny and down to earth she is. She is a very happy person, who plays unhappy characters very well. And she likes to keep things simple.


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