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Comic-Con: Relativity's The Raven: Cusack on Psychology of Godfather of Goth Edgar Allen Poe

by Sophia Savage
July 23, 2011 3:36 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

The Raven trailer, which premiered at Friday's Relativity panel, looks very commercial, very Sherlock Holmes, but with less humor and more of the gothic gore that goes with Edgar Allen Poe. The Hall H panel featured director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta), John Cusack (who plays Poe), Luke Evans (Inspector Emmit Fields) and Poe's romantic interest, Emily (Alice Eve). McTeigue compared the film's tone to Misery and Se7en; Cusack called Poe "the Godfather of Goth." Cusack also noted that he "saw some of Hunter S. Thompson in Poe..the unflinching ability to delve into the abyss."

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The film is a fictional construct of Poe's last five days in Baltimore in 1846, during which a series of murders occur using Poe's writings as their motif. Inspector Fields initially suspects Poe, but they soon pool their resources to solve the mysterious murders (and save Alice) together. Evans and Cusack have a bit of a Holmes/Watson type of relationship in the film. Of his character's perspective on Poe, Evans said: "he's a raging alcoholic,..not a man I'd spend any time with…but they go on a journey and find a mutual respect for each other, drawn together by these crimes."

McTeigue said: "I think up until this point, there's never been a Poe movie because of how Poe was…he was an opium addict and an alcoholic…but we wove these things into a film….you have to honor what the guy's life was, and know what his stories meant to him. He was the precursor to science fiction…to capture the essence of the movie you have to capture the authenticity of what the character was."

Cusack said of Poe: "He was a bit of a rockstar in his day. He had written [poem] The Raven and it went around the world," and while Poe didn't get any money from it, "he was famous." As for the women in Poe's life, Cusack says; "He did love the women he loved."

McTeigue defended Poe's notoriety and calls his relationship with women "Unique,..It's all conjecture, cause I wasn't there, [but] It seemed to me that he held females up to an almost [idealized standard]--he didn't like the company of men…he didn't like any men, he wanted to fight [every man he met]--but he loved being in the company of women, but not like a playboy,..he held them up, almost muse-like, as the perfect almost untouched female." McTeigue thinks it came from Poe loosing both is mother and his first wife to TB, and the subsequent yearning for and feeling abandoned by them. Women loved him right back: "they would swoon over him," said McTeigue. Cusack added: "[Poe] got invited to the White House. Got drunk. Got kicked out. Sort of a bad boy but not in an obvious sense,..[he was] sort of at home in the gutter..he was a crazy character."

Thompson on Hollywood


Eve's character is kidnapped and buried alive, and she recalls a lot of uncomfortable shoot days. "I had to eat a lot of dirt..James would spend days throwing dirt in my face and he'd get engrossed in the monitor and how it looked as I choked." They built the set used to bury her in a room in a desolate winter Serbian location. Eve called it "method" acting. Cusack added: "Poe said there is nothing more fascinating in the world than a beautiful woman dying. So we had to have that [in the film]." During the shoot, Cusack remembers asking McTeigue late one night why Eve (who will appear in MIB III and the last season of Entourage) was so interesting to watch. McTeigue's response was that "she's got a secret." Cusack said: "She's a really charismatic person, so I really like to work with her."

Cusack was the target of most of the fan questions. A young man asked, "Is this gonna be the first movie where when I leave the theater the girl I'm with doesn't go 'I wish you were more like John Cusack'?" Cusack responded "No," to much laughter. Not the answer this fellow was hoping for.

By far the weirdest question of the day (not an easy label to earn) was a woman complimenting both Cusack and his sister Joan Cusack's talent, and then asking if there were any plans for them to marry and reproduce. Cusack was confused, didn't know "what the fuck" she was talking about, but confirmed: "No, I'm not marrying my sister. But I'd love to work with her again."

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Evans just shot No One Lives in New Orleans, in which he plays a psychopathic murderer. He says people ask him if it was hard for him to snap out of the character, but that "psychological horrors are just displaced reality, you have to have fun..so no, I don't have trouble snapping out of it." He also has an Immortals panel here at Comic-Con, and stars in The Three Musketeers with Orlando Bloom. "Oh, how could I forget The Hobbit?" he said. "Sorry, Peter." He plays Bard the Bowman.

Next for McTeigue is FilmNation's Message for the King, from screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell. But first, he's got to finish The Raven for its March 2012 release. Upcoming for Cusack, there's comedy Dictablanda (which he says is getting a new name; he also co-wrote it) as well as Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, co-starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron (based on Peter Dexter's novel).

Here's more about The Raven.

SYNOPSIS: When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper—part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe. But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story.

Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe’s writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage, Fields enlists the author’s help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer’s next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of the detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it’s too late.


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