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John Cusack: An Arts Snob

John Cusack is one of the few young actors perhaps more in love with his art than himself. His recent movie, Being John Malkovich, is creating an Oscar buzz.

Now appearing in the new Cradle Will Rock, he talked to The Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel about his cinematic choices.


"I thought it was a really good script," Cusack explains.

"I have been old friends with [director] Tim [Robbins] for a long time. I loved the idea of playing Nelson Rockefeller. I like what the movie is about," he says.

The film centers on the Works Progress Administration project that put artists to work during the Depression and "the relationship between art, power, censorship and politics," he adds.

According to Cusack, that is not far removed from what it is going on today, "just over in Brooklyn."

Cusack explains he was not trying to play Nelson Rockefeller, but rather a scripted character. And the film has an interesting tone of farce, Cusack adds, noting that it is "was generally true to Nelson Rockefeller, but he was a really good guy, it seems."

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The film describes an incident with Mexican artist Diego Rivera, (portrayed by Ruben Blades) whom Rockerfeller commissioned to paint a mural for Rockefeller Center, Cusack says.

"Then Rivera put a big picture of Lenin right in the center, the bubonic plague and, you know, cops beating workers. Rockefeller, although he was a great patron of the arts, and really loved it; he just couldn't have it at Rockefeller Center," explains Cusack.

Given the subject matter, the film may not turn out to be a blockbuster. But that doesn't matter to Cusack, he says.

"It has a terrific cast. It's a great imbedded film. It has great performances....I think it can make money. This isn't the kind of film that is made for the express purpose of having a $50 million opening weekend," he points out.

That's not to say that Cusack is not drawn to those films; he has been in a few movies that have done well.

"You just have to respond to sort of what you like and themes that you like and ideas that you like and talent that you want to work with," he says. "I'm a snob that way. I really want to work with people I respect," he adds.

Being John Malkovich is probably the strangest film he has ever worked on and a movie not expected to make money, he says.

"But it's actually making money. Hopefully that will happen with Cradle, too," he adds.

In an article interview, Cusak said, "Celebrity is death.That's the worst thing that can happen to an actor."

Cusack still believes that, he says. "People have said about me that I'm, you know, I'm intensely private. That's very funny because that seems...to mean that just because I won't talk about who I might sleep with, or my family, or some other things, that I'm private," he says.

"But I'm not private at all. I just don't think that stuff is anyone's business," he explains.

"People who actually use their celebrity and are more interested in their celebrity than the actual work that they're doing - they tend to sort of fade out or become dismissible," he says. "I don't know why it happens. I don't want to be part of it."

For more film information visit Cradle Will Rock official Web site.

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