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John Cusack Leads All-Star Cast

In the big-screen version of a John Grisham novel, "Runaway Jury," actor John Cusack plays a manipulative juror with an agenda.

His character is involved in an elaborate scheme to rig the outcome of a trial. The cast also includes Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman.

"That's kind of a dream come true for me," says Cusack and tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, though this is the first time Hoffman and Hackman have worked together, they've been lifelong friends.

Cusack says, "They were roommates in New York when they were out-of-work actors. I think they were rooming with another guy named Robert Duvall."

Hoffman plays the lawyer, a good guy. Hackman is the jury consultant who spies on the jurors and does everything he can to intimidate them.

Invading people's privacy is something quite real that goes on in the legal world, Cusack notes. "When you're talking about the outcomes of these trials being perhaps the settlements in the billions of dollars, you know that power is going to find its way into the machinations of justice. I thought it was a pretty original take."

As for his character, he is one of the jurors who is manipulating the guys who are manipulating the jury. The fun part is that it is hard for viewers to tell if his character is good or bad throughout the whole movie until the end.

Cusack says, "It's kind of a thriller and a courtroom drama, but for the first half of the film, it's really a confidence game, so there's that element of the con involved. And the con really is all about gaining someone's trust and having information that the other person doesn't have."

Some facts about John Cusack:

  • On June 28, 1966, he was born John Paul Cusack in Evanston, Ill.
  • Cusack attended New York University in New York City, but dropped out after less than a year.
  • Cusack appeared in industrial films, doing voice-overs in commercials and acting in radio spots by the age of 12.
  • In 1983, Cusack made his screen acting debut as a prep school student in the coming-of-age comedy "Class."
  • In 1984, Cusack was one of the main "nerds" featured in "Sixteen Candles"; sister Joan also appeared in film.
  • Cusack founded New Crime Productions, a Chicago-based theater company, in 1986.
  • In 1991, he had a small role in "Shadows and Fog", marking his first film with Woody Allen.
  • The actor formed the film production arm of New Crime Productions with Paramount Pictures in 1992.
  • In 1999, Cusack starred in "The Jack Bull", a Western written by his father, Dick Cusack, and produced by New Crime Productions.