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Joan Cusack's Versatility

Two-time Academy Award nominee Joan Cusack has stood out in many ensemble films, including Working Girl, In and Out, Broadcast News and Adams Family Values.

She talks about her latest film, Cradle Will Rock, with The Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel.


In Cradle Will Rock, director Tim Robbins gave Cusack a serious character to play. As Hazel Huffman, she plays a woman concerned about individual expression in the arts.

"She has a point, even though it's not my point. But it's a point where it's important that the arts shouldn't be totally influenced by politics. They can be, but not exclusively. That's her concern," explains Cusack.

The film features a strong ensemble cast, including Susan Sarandon, Bill Murray, Ruben Blades and Cusack's brother, John. Click here for a related story.

This is the sixth film that she appears in with her brother. "I love working with him," she says.

"He's...such a great charming guy and such a good actor. I feel it rewarding to be able to do something with him and share. We [had] the same kind of family values growing up, and so it's great to be able to do something with him."

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"He's an ally," she says, explaining that it's great to have someone else to talk to about what goes on behind the scenes.

Some would say Cradle Will Rock is the type of film that will not be a big blockbuster, but Cusack says she values it in a different way. "I think of PBS for my son. And I think, you know what? That might not have been on commercial TV. But thank God it exists," she says.

Cusack is also in the hit film Toy Story 2, as the voice of Jessie. "I thought because I have a 2 1/2-year-old, it would be so cool for his mom to be an animated character. It's such cool, cutting-edge animation," she says.

Cusack reveals she was also able to collaborate a little on the characterization: "They wanted Woody to come and save her. I said, 'Can she sort of save him, too?'"

"I was thinking of all those little girls out there, [and of] strong women. So they did. They changed it, and she grabs his arm when he was about to fall," she explains.

Playing in an animated film, Cusack was confined to the inflections in her voice; she says she liked not being able to rely on anything else.

Cusack is also almost six months pregnant with her second child, another boy. She lives in Chicago with her husband to stay away from the Hollywood mind-set.

"I think sometims it gets distracting, some of those values of looking great and money. And, you know, those are important, nice things. But it's the real things in life, your friends and your husband and your kids [that matter,]" she says.

For more film information visit the Cradle Will Rock and Toy Story 2 official Web sites.

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