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Arts and Entertainment

John Cusack Calls Hollywood A Place 'Ripe With All These Frontier Crazies'

John Cusack at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 (landmarkmedia /
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John Cusack has never been afraid to speak his mind, but his latest role in David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars" has given him an opening to really let loose about working in Hollywood.Cusack plays a wealthy self-help guru in Cronenberg's takedown of the Hollywood system that The Guardian calls "a fever dream of modern celebrity" that "riles the studio system for its absurdity, then vilifies those obsessed with fame." Screenwriter Bruce Wagner has dismissed the idea that the screenplay is an over-the-top satire; he says he's heard every ridiculous line uttered in real life. Cusack gave an interview to the British newspaper agreeing that the film nails life in the movie industry. When asked which parts, he replied “Almost everything.”

“LA seems to be a place where a guy can say he’s a ‘life-coach-channeller-masseur’,” Cusack told The Guardian. “It just seems to be ripe with all these frontier crazies. People are looking to turn their pain into beautiful art, but they also want to be famous. And there’s so much money - so of course all the predators come in.”

A 26-year-old woman is described as "menopausal" in the film, and he says the misogyny in the industry is that bad: “I have actress friends who are being put out to pasture at 29. They just want to open up another can of hot 22. It’s becoming almost like kiddie porn. It’s fucking weird.”

He also says that when he was coming up as a young actor—he made his debut at 16—he felt like there were people looking out for him. He points to his co-star Robert Pattinson as someone who has found a refuge in the Cronenberg's movies. But he says that's rare these days: “There were good people in the business. When I came to LA Rob Reiner said: ‘Come stay at my house.’ He taught me. I worked with Pacino. Pacino would talk to you and mentor you. Now it’s different. The culture just eats young actors up and spits them out. It’s a hard thing to survive without finding safe harbor.”

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He says Hollywood is ruled by mega-corporations who make their money from franchises and use their stars as leverage. In "Maps to the Stars," the cute 13-year-old who anchors a mega-successful franchise turns into a nightmarish brat. “You can’t make it up,” says Cusack. “It’s a whorehouse and people go mad.”

Cusack says that Hollywood used to have more room outside blockbusters: “My friend Joe Roth ran Disney [until 2000],” he says. “He made things like The Rock and Con Air to make shareholders happy, but then he also gave six or seven slots to people he liked. I got to make High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank. Spike Lee got to make Summer of Sam. Wes Anderson got to make Rushmore. I had that memory of film and that’s gone.”

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