TORONTO—John Cusack says he doesn’t enjoy “the madness” of celebrity-obsessed culture these days and he worries about some young actors who have to deal with it.
The big-screen veteran is at the Toronto International Film Festival with two projects—”Maps to the Stars,” in which he plays a self-help guru whose son is a child actor, and “Love & Mercy,” in which he plays Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.
In an interview to discuss director David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” and its exploration of Hollywood life and the pitfalls of fame, Cusack lamented extensive media coverage of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber’s presence in the city during the festival.
He said he caught the Bieber coverage in his hotel room Monday night while scanning TV channels after the “Love & Mercy” world premiere.
“I stopped at the TIFF programming and they had like a Wolf Blitzer ‘Situation Room’ and all these people talking and I was like, ‘OK, there must be a big event, maybe they’re going to talk about seeing Brian here,”‘ recalled the Golden Globe-nominated “High Fidelity” star, who first gained fame in the mid-1980s.
“What is it? It was two stages and it was ‘Justin Bieber is here and we’re going to go to the big map,’ and they had a … lunatic going—like it was CNN—and they had this interactive map and he was going, ‘And he’s been on this street,’ and they were following a … dot where he was going,” continued Cusack, peppering his thoughts with an unprintable expletive in a downtown hotel room.
“And then they were like, ‘And he’s in this mall and he’s about this product, and then here we can see him kissing’—I don’t know whose girlfriend is his, someone named Selena—and these were … adults! You know, they’re … adult people and this is a film festival that’s awesome that actually likes films. But this is the culture, right? This is the … culture.
“I don’t know who I feel more sorry for—the people who actually would be shameless enough to put that as a 25-minute segment in the middle of their coverage?”
Cusack said such aspects of contemporary fame have him feeling bad for emerging actors in North America, including his “Maps to the Stars” fellow cast member Evan Bird of Vancouver.
“I would worry about Evan and some of these other kids with the compulsion or the pressure that adults or people in the industry would put on you to just … chop you up into hamburger and start … selling you on the streets,” said the 48-year-old whose extensive list of credits also includes “Sixteen Candles,” “Say Anything,” “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “Being John Malkovich.”
“I mean, like, what the (hell) is that? It’s just madness. The ship has sailed on me believing in any of that.”
Bird plays the actor-son of Cusack’s character in the Bruce Wagner-written “Maps to the Stars.” The star-packed ensemble cast also includes Julianne Moore as an insecure middle-aged actress, Mia Wasikowska as her pyromaniac assistant, and Robert Pattinson as a struggling actor working as a limo driver.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sunday.