The actress gives us an exclusive on what it's like to do a political satire with her famous brother.
Ten years ago, a black little comedy called Grosse Pointe Blank about a hitman having a career crisis that coincides with his high school reunion added the role of writer and producer to star John Cusack's already ample resume. Over the years, his company, New Crime Productions, has put out several other noteworthy movies such as High Fidelity and Grace is Gone.
Next up for Cusack and New Crime is War, Inc., a political satire that aims its sights at both out nation's current warlike approach to the Middle East as well as the corporate interests that the war in Iraq has to offer. In it, Cusack plays Brand Hauser, a guilty hitman who is hired by the Tamerlane Corporation to kill a Middle Eastern oil minister that has gotten in its way of capitalizing on the corporate opportunities available in the fake war-torn country of Turaqistan.
If the troubled hitman bit sounds a little bit like Gross Pointe Blank, it's meant to. "It's kind of like the sequel," says John's sister, actress Joan Cusack (In & Out, Working Girl), who once again joins him in this movie. "It's a little punk rock incendiary cartoon," she says. In fact, her character, Marsha Dillon, is also remarkably similar to that of the role she played in Grosse Point Blank -- a cutthroat and quirky assistant.
I jokingly ask her if this is a commentary on how her brother views her, but Joan is nothing but love for him. "I am happy to come and support John and be there," she says, the warmth in her voice audible. It's obvious she genuinely enjoys working with him. "He always makes me feel like a million bucks."
War, Inc. marks the tenth time the Cusack siblings have worked together. At this point, Joan tells me, when John asks her to be in one of his movies, she agrees without even seeing the script. "I can think of a million different movies to do, but the difference is he actually makes them," she says.
Her praise for her brother -- and what he's trying to say with War, Inc. in particular -- doesn't end there. "It's a great luxury to be able to look back and say that at least you tried to say something," Joan says of the movie's political message, which is delivered with a heap of humor. But she continues to give John all the credit. "He works soooo hard. You just can't imagine how hard he works. He really cares and he is grateful to be able to make a movie."
"It's not something that's a casual thing to make a movie or to want to make movies," she continues. That this one is political comedy makes a lot of sense of Joan. "The fact that John's been making them for a long time and thinking about it for a long time and loves movies the way that he does, the passion that he has for Dr. Strangelove and for performances in different things. And the fact that we were kind of steeped in a culture of political activism and Monty Python, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Fernwood 2 Night, those kind of influences all lead us to War, Inc."
War Inc. opens in select theaters today, May 23, 2008.