So, About my Night with John Cusack

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The tour company that booked me to interview William Shatner after screening Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan got back in touch with me in August and inquired if I’d like to interview John Cusack. He’s been touring the country since January, screening Say Anything, and then doing the same Q&A.I have admired Cusack’s career although I haven’t seen his entire output because he’s been a very busy actor. And unlike Shatner, I would actually have to research my subject but how could I say no?So, I did a deep dive, reading up on his interviews, coverage of his appearances prior to Baltimore, and even started following his politically charged Twitter account. I prepped two solid pages of questions and was ready. Then the event was postponed because of an impending hurricane.Cusack and the film finally arrived on October 25. Deb was jammed with work and had to give it a pass but in the audience were two of my fellow teachers and two of my friends (in fact, Steve and Renee Wilson were also present for Shatner). I arrived early and met the tour manager who informed me that rather than audience-provided questions, there would be two microphones flanking the auditorium so my goal was to chat for thirty minutes then moderate the questions. It’d be my responsibility to wrap by 10:15.I hung out backstage, chatting with photographer and newfound friend Mychael Smith as the movie played over a speaker in the room reserved for the VIP pictures. He’d shot Shatner and apparently was a regular at Shore Leave and Farpoint although I didn’t realize it.Cusack arrived around 8:30 and after a quick handshake, went to his green room to chill. I was brought back to speak with him soon after and it was a brief, ten minute conversation. He said nothing was off-limits. Good to know. He liked that I was a teacher and suggested ways to tie that to Lloyd Dobbler’s experience.Finally, the film ended, I was introduced, and then I brought Cusack out. For the next hour or so, we talked and he took questions. He scoffed at some of my facts, mocking me for using only Wikipedia (although I was later proven correct). All was forgiven when I quoted from Mother Jones, which got his attention. There was definitely a preponderance of women, all of whom made it fairly clear they loved him and were available.He was very funny, very engaging and where Shatner used me as the straight man, Cusack spoke to me and the audience as if we were all sitting around, enjoying a drink together. He was great and the topics were broad ranging but clearly, the most love was there for Say Anything, Grosse Point Blank, and High Fidelity.I did my job and we were done at 10:15 then he went to his room to relax a bit before coming out to take quick pictures with the long line of fans who paid for the privilege. I chatted with teachers from West Virginia and Delaware who made the long drive to be there and, like me, had to be in the classroom the following morning. I got my shot, a final handshake and was done.These are fun non-paying gigs and hope to do this again in the future.

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