A self-proclaimed “Lucky Fucker”, John Cusack sat across from me, chewing a huge wad of bubble gum and carefully NOT answering questions.
I had just finished watching “Say Anything” with 1,700 of my closest friends. And we were ALL very excited to see John stroll onto the stage after the credits rolled.
The next 30 minutes were filled with a moderated Q&A. The moderator was someone. I didn’t catch his name, and although I did attempt to look it up later, I actually don’t care, because he wasn’t great. Clearly a fan, I think he was in his “fan head” so often that he forgot to pay attention. The most interesting part of this was that John managed to NOT answer almost every question. Even when it was presented to him more than once. Yet, the audience didn’t seem to notice. Applauding and cheering like a bunch of love-struck schoolgirls. It was a little cringe-worthy. But John was genius. As dark and quirky as you would expect. And I loved it.
I sat in the front row, and watched him carefully. When the topic of music came up, he lit up. This would be the most information he offered. And, frankly, it seemed to be missed by the moderator. He was asked about most of his performances, and his answers were almost always the same. I wanted to jump up on stage (I was in the front row, and there was a security dude literally at my right knee… otherwise, I think I would have) and smack that moderator out of his seat. Then I would have perched DIRECTLY across from John Cusack and asked the questions. The music questions.
Best question of the night: “You wear The Clash t-shirt in the movie. Who were the bands you were listening to at the time, and what music inspired you during the filming?” His answer? “The Replacements, Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers.” He would go on to talk more about their music, and how those bands and others inspired him during many of his films.
The best unasked question of the night: “What’s the weirdest comment you’ve gotten from a fan during these screenings?” He answered anyway (thank goodness, because the fan questions were really REALLY terrible) “A man came up and told me that his wife divorced him because he wasn’t me! (a combination of cheers and groans from the audience) But then he said, I just want to THANK YOU SO MUCH!” (he threw his head back in laughter and the audience erupted!)
He offered up some tidbits on his Nixon role. The moderator again seemed to glaze over it.
I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but I knew it was coming. Politics. The moderator brought it up, as did one of the fans. It didn’t last long. He used the word “impeach” and the crowd went wild. About 80% were cheering, but the Trump 2020 fans were there as well and began to boo. I noticed a definite change in the posture of the security guards. But as fast as it began, it ended, and I was glad. This was about him as a theater personality.
The most revealing part of the interview came at the end. I don’t even remember the initial question, because (like all the rest) it was dumb. But he answered with what HE wanted to say. “In old Hollywood, you had to make one of *their* movies in order to fund one of *yours*. After time, it became two of theirs and one of yours. Now, it seems it’s six of theirs and none of yours.”
His “hits” weren’t necessarily films he was proud of. He even stated that he doesn’t watch them. They were a means to an end. And he discussed the films that meant something to him. His conversation about “Being John Malkovich” was enlightening.
After that, those of us with VIP passes were allowed a moment with him, backstage, downstairs, around a couple corners, in a tiny, nondescript, brightly lit room… with a professional photographer and a couple handlers (and again, much security). After a previous Meet & Greet with Myles Kennedy, where we were allowed to literally hang out with him, taking pictures and videos, and ask him questions, this was not what I expected.
The “I love you’s” and “we met once before’s” and “Marry me’s” made me want to turn and run. He must be numb to those words by now. But I wanted my moment… my question… and my hug.
I suppose I need to back up and say I had been looking forward to this night for months. I’ve thought about the witty conversation I would have with him. And as excited as I was, I never once thought I would choke. But I made a rookie mistake. I went out the night before and had a wee bit too much to drink. I woke up Sunday morning feeling rough. And all the coffee, water, and hangover food wasn’t helping. I couldn’t shake the post-whiskey cobwebs out of my brain. So I asked for help. What questions should I ask?
The best suggestion was, “Ask him to go have some pie.”
I am sad to say that my night did not end at the quiet end of a diner, gazing across as Lloyd Dobler took the last bite of marionberry pie. I did, however, tell him I was nursing a hangover and that I was a little disappointed in myself. He grinned, blew a bubble, and leaned way down (the man is 6’2″… I am not) to look me in the face and said, “Don’t be disappointed.”
Everything was lost after that.