News

Joan Cusack: mom first, then movie star

Madeleine Marr
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Fans of 1984's teen classic "Sixteen Candles" probably can't imagine Joan Cusack as a mom. It's hard to erase the image of her playing the ultimate geek in a head retainer trying unsuccessfully to grab a drink at a water fountain.

Believe it, the perennial sidekick is 47 now, and still enjoys a successful career, with some 50 films behind her including "My Sister's Keeper," "Confessions of A Shopaholic" and "Friends with Money," plus a few with her younger brother John ("Martian Child," "Grosse Pointe Blank," "High Fidelity"). But the Chicago native also dedicates her time to a sweet cause, teaming with Glad bags and Cookies for Kids Cancer, an organization that helps raise money for pediatric cancer research through bake sales.

We talked to Cusack from her Illinois home.

Q. Why did you get involved in this charity?

A. "It's like promoting a movie you really care about. I'm a mom first and foremost (to sons Dylan, 12, and Miles, 10, with attorney husband Dick Burke). And as I get older I realize all my friends are moms too. Kids with cancer — well, it's so awful you don't even want to go there in your mind."

Q. Do you have personal experience with the disease?

A. "My dad (actor/ writer Richard Cusack) died of pancreatic cancer in 2003. He was sick, then two months later he was gone. But it's a whole different thing with kids."

Q. Do you get recognized when you walk around Chicago?

A. "I think Oprah's got the market cornered! She's the big celebrity in town. Usually when people know me they're not sure for what."

Q. But you've appeared in movies for more than 25 years!

A. "I've been lucky; I was never the ingenue. I am always the character or the best friend, the comedic sidekick. There's actually more opportunity there. You don't have the great rise and fall of the leading-lady scenario. I also have to thank John Hughes for giving me my start. He was making movies about teenagers and I was a teenager."

Q. Do you have a favorite role?

A. "Movies are like times of your life. You don't remember days, you remember moments. During (1997's) "In and Out," I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I was so, so happy."

Q. Is it fun to work with your brother?

A. "It is. I'm happy to support him in whatever he does. It's a tough business and we all need grounding. But John has managed to stay above it all."

Q. What's next?

A. "(Voicing) "Toy Story 3," out June 13. Both my kids think it's pretty cool that mom's in a movie with Buzz Lightyear."

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.