John Cusack of "The Raven" Meets Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour for "Rogue on Rogue"
Tue, 24 Apr 2012 08:47:36
The Raven star John Cusack and Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor have a lot in common.
In Relativity Media's gripping new thriller, The Raven, Cusack imbues Edgar Allan Poe with an incisive intensity akin to Taylor's on stage and studio exorcism in Slipknot. In the film, Poe is on the trail of a serial killer who's bringing the author's work to life brutal fashion. The actor certainly mines the darker depths of the psyche in order to confront and trap this killer, and he does it with both panache and power. It's an innovative and inventive roller coaster fueled by Cusack's performance as much as the action.
Channeling a similar raw energy, Taylor's currently working on a two-disc epic album with Stone Sour and preparing for Slipknot to lay American amphitheaters to waste on this summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Both artists possess a deep passion for their work and attack each piece methodically and with a groundbreaking spirit.
It's no surprise that they got along quite well when they sat down for this exclusive "Rogue on Rogue" interview just before The Raven hit theaters everywhere on April 27, 2012.
In this exclusive interview, John Cusack of The Raven and Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour meet. The two discuss their respective passions, the film, when they discovered Edgar Allan Poe, wearing masks, Stephen King, what's next, and so much more.
What's your take on The Raven?
Corey Taylor: Well, I thought the movie was amazing. I truly enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me watch it! I really dug it.
John Cusack: That's great. Thank you so much!
Corey Taylor: There's a parallel between something like the murders in the film and things that have happened in heavy metal over the years where the music is blamed for inciting violence. Someone's fiction and work is taken and twisted in such a weird way. You played that so beautifully in the movie, John. When they first tell Poe something he's written is the impetus for a murder, I could totally relate to the look on your face. I thought you did that really well.
John Cusack: Thank you! Then Poe says, "If I'd have known my work would have such a morbid effect on people, I would've devoted more time to eroticism" [Laughs].
Corey Taylor: Exactly! I loved that line.
John Cusack: I think there's another way to look at it too. The reason people respond so much to artists who write about channeling any of the darker, more shadowy forces out there—or those things in us—is probably because they don't feel a sense of authenticity in their lives. They know for sure the world around them is unauthentic. They know that all of the people pretending they don't have all of these feelings are full of shit. When you see a guy like Poe or a modern rock 'n' roll equivalent like Kurt Cobain, there's a really natural desire. Here are these angry, isolated depressed searchers who are shunning themselves from the entire world and they're placed on pedestals like patron saints. I think it's because people realize we all have a shadow and dark side, and it's healthier to explore it than it is to deny it. Most sickness comes from denying the shadow. It doesn't come from experiencing it or experiencing what you really feel underneath it. I think Poe was an explorer that way and a lot of artists are. It's tricky stuff because people can use it the wrong way, but I think repression of these feelings is far more dangerous than the actual expression. I've always felt that. Then again, I've never been in that situation where I've had a direct relationship to it.
Corey Taylor: It's heavy. At the end of the day, I couldn't agree more. To hold that stuff down, it's like a blocked pipe. Something bad is going to happen if you don't clear that out.
John Cusack: No doubt.
Corey Taylor: For me, it's always better to write it down and let it loose so I can come back and feel normal. When you repress that stuff and never give it a voice, it ends up coming out unconsciously. It can be devastating in a lot of ways.
John Cusack: I think that's right. The other thing is—as a songwriter I'm sure and sometimes for me as an actor and writer—Poe was using the language of the subconscious. If you think about it, your dreams are violent, perverse, jagged, and brutal. Maybe they can be sexual. Maybe they can be confusing. They can be all of these things, but that's what happens in your dreams. You're unconscious. Poe was using that language. A lot of other people do too. What's down there beneath the surface in the underworld is valuable, but we don't know how to interpret what those symbols or conflicting images of our subconscious are supposed to mean. It's part of what makes us human. It's part of what makes us alive. It's not the light and the exclusion of the dark. It's the synthesis of the two that makes us human and gives us all of our creativity, power, and vision. Nobody has got any vision who hasn't peered into the abyss. I'm sorry. I haven't met anybody who does.
Corey Taylor: That's very true.
John Cusack: You need to get your ass kicked and get your ego put in check. The only way you do that is by taking a beating. I think Poe was also into that realm of pioneering. Musicians do it all the time, and they do it at the purest level because they give it song and put it into verse with bursts of energy.
Watch the Trailer for The Raven
When you peer into the abyss, you can create some incredible art.
John Cusack: Yeah, or you can make the argument you can't even do good work unless you incorporate that dark side. You always have to have your shadow in any creative endeavor. Some do it more than others [Laughs].
Corey Taylor: Definitely!
When did you first discover Edgar Allan Poe?
John Cusack: I remember learning about him in high school. They'd teach you about The Fall of the House of Usher. I read The Masque of the Red Death in English class. That was my first introduction. Around Halloween, there would be Poe stuff everywhere.
Corey Taylor: When I was a kid, I can remember watching the old Hammer films. There was a channel in Iowa that would show The Fall of the House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, and everything with Vincent Price. I think it was on Sundays. I was always mesmerized by the colors in those movies.
John Cusack: Technicolor!
Corey Taylor: Exactly! It was so crazy. That led me to search out and read all of Poe's works. I'm such a fan of language, and the way people write. I loved the way he would use the language almost against the person who was reading it. You'd read it, and you'd be like, "Whoa, this is intensely dark!"
John Cusack: And aggressive…I like how you said he was using it against the reader [Laughs].
Corey Taylor: Especially in that day and age, you had people like H.P. Lovecraft here and there, but there was something very visceral about the way Poe wrote. You'd constantly be plotting towards that uncomfortable moment when basically all shit was going to break loose [Laughs]. You're like, "Should I finish this?"
John Cusack: In his writing, any calm was a calm before the storm. The foundations were always about to crack or crumble. It's a different kind of mind. Only a couple of writers or people can think, "Let's figure out what our worst nightmare is." Most people have it, and then they want to wake up. Poe said, "Let's go deeper. Let's run towards the abyss." He was a heavy cat.
Watch Slipknot's Music Video for "Psychosocial"
John, you wear a mask during the ball scene of The Raven, and Corey, masks are an integral element of the Slipknot ethos and experience. What is it like to emote under a mask?
Corey Taylor: For me, there are so many different emotions going on during a Slipknot show that you can always use it to tap into that unbridled id and cross back and forth between scream therapy and pure emotion. I've always thought I'm showing more than I'm hiding by wearing that mask, jumping out on that stage, and doing that stuff. It's almost like showing the audience that pressure valve and being able to let it blow wide open and go for it.
John Cusack: Yeah, the idea with the mask is by losing yourself you get to show more of yourself.
Corey Taylor: I completely agree.
John Cusack: You become an everyman of sorts. In James McTeigue's movie, V for Vendetta, Anonymous is using the Anonymous mask. You can't really see the eyes in that. The key to a mask is it frees you up almost from the bondage of being yourself to be the pure spirit. Then, you animate the mask. When I worked in the theater with masks, that was always the deal. It's great fun. The idea is we wear a lot of masks all day. We pretend to be this way or have this face on for these people. By wearing a mask, you're admitting to the fact you have different personalities and guises. I think it's cool. I love masks.
How entwined are music and movies? How important is it to incorporate music?
John Cusack: Well, I've been almost religious about it. When I'm making or producing my own films, I can do that. I wanted to put "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan in this movie, but McTeigue didn't want to go for it [Laughs]. I hear that song in my head, and I think it had a Poe vibe to it. I love what Lou Reed did with the album The Raven. I'd be in Serbia or Hungary, and I'd listen to Lou Reed's The Raven, some Tom Waits, or Donovan. Music is always a portal into making movies for me. Whether I'm listening to Bob Dylan or after this talk I'm really going to explore Slipknot much deeper…
Corey Taylor: There you go [Laughs].
John Cusack: I've got to get into this now! I always use music as inspiration and fuel. I've tried to put great music in as many of my movies as I could.
Corey Taylor: One of the things I've always loved watching your movies, John, is I can tell you're a music fan. Being a huge fan of yours, I love seeing you add stuff like that even in a movie like Must Love Dogs. Watching you work the scene with a Ramones shirt on, which is one of my favorite bands ever, I was like, "That's coming from him!" I could tell.
John Cusack: Yeah!
Corey Taylor: You wear your love for music on your sleeve.
John Cusack: I think people certainly look to troubadours to help them get through the day and make sense of the world. They get truth, inspiration, and guidance. I've always done that. Whether you're in trouble or you're really up against it, I'll listen to some Bob Dylan. I don't even know if Bob knows what he's talking about, but I know I get something out of it every time I listen. It reaffirms the mystery and all the striving. I look to music and musicians for guidance. You know?
Corey Taylor: Definitely!
What are some of your favorite scenes in the movie?
Corey Taylor: One of my favorite moments in the movie is when Poe first comes into the newspaper and he freaks out about Longfellow. I literally laughed out loud and woke people up at my house because that caught me so off guard. That had me cracking up.
John Cusack: Awesome!
Corey Taylor: I loved not only the acting but the visuals!
John Cusack: In the beginning, I loved how competitive he was with other writers. I also loved the scene we got to do before the movie takes off. You see him out, and he's skulking around the streets. He finishes his bottle, and he's broke. He goes into the bar, and he looks at everyone. He knows how this is going to end, but it's the addict within him. You really see all of the different sides of his personality, his ego, and a lot of the darker hues in that bar scene. I enjoyed it as a piece of writing and directing.
Corey Taylor: I loved how pissed off the sailor was, but he didn't want to do anything yet. When you snatched the drink from that dude, it was almost like he was too incredulous to act at that point. It's like, "Is this really happening?"
John Cusack: Poe knows he's going to get his ass beat [Laughs]. He knew before he walked into the door.
Corey Taylor: It was so good!
Corey, do you remember the first movie you saw John in?
Corey Taylor: Probably the first time I remember seeing John was Sixteen Candles obviously, which is one of my favorite movies. The next time I saw John was The Sure Thing, which I still think has some great one-liners in it that I quote over and over.
John Cusack: That's going way back, man!
Corey Taylor: Every time somebody says they only want to use a credit card in emergency conditions, you just look at them and say, "Well, maybe one will come up." [Laughs] That deadpan is like, "Really?" I've been such a fan of John's for so long that I can't really remember the first one I ever saw him in. Obviously, there are the films that immediately come to mind like Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity. I really love Serendipity. Then, there's The Sure Thing and Better Off Dead, Jesus! I'm a movie fanatic so I quote the shit all the time. There's not one day that I won't walk up to my car, turn around, and yell [Laughs].
Director James McTeigue and John Cusack Talk The Raven
1408 is another one that stands out in John's catalog.
Corey Taylor: Wonderful movie!
John Cusack: That's a cool one too because if you really think about Rod Serling, Stephen King, or even the Saw franchise, those really came from Poe as well. I was very happy Stephen King really liked 1408 and gave us his endorsement. I thought that was really great. To me, he's the living master. He's a legend.
Corey Taylor: He's still one of my all-time favorites. I read The Stand once every year because that's my favorite book of his.
John Cusack: We were hoping Stephen would like the movie so we screened it for him. He said it was great. He really liked it so we were real proud of that.
Corey Taylor: I thought it showed a lot of you too John because for the most part it's you in that room reacting to certain things. I thought it was a great way to show how good you are in something like that. Watching you go a little more crazy with every five minutes, it was intense.
John Cusack: That was a fun one. I thought it would be something Poe could write about somebody going crazy in a hotel room. It definitely stood on the shoulders of Poe.
See Slipknot's Short Film for "Snuff"
What's on the horizon for you both?
Corey Taylor: You're going to be Nixon, right?
John Cusack: I'm doing a small thing in this Lee Daniels movie. I just made one with him called The Paperboy with Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and Matthew McConaughey which is really cool. We're going to go with Cannes. I've got The Frozen Ground with Nicolas Cage and then The Raven. That's me.
Corey Taylor: I'm working on the new Stone Sour record which is a double concept album with 24 tracks. It's incredibly time consuming [Laughs].
John Cusack: I bet!
Corey Taylor: I just finished the storyline on it. I'm talking to some graphic artists, and I'm really stoked about it.
John Cusack: Are you guys on the road at all?
Corey Taylor: I'm going out with Slipknot this summer.
John Cusack: I've got to see you!
Corey Taylor: I'm a super fan, and I really enjoyed this. Thank you!
John Cusack: Thank you, I'd love to talk more and get into your music and see where you're at.
Corey Taylor: This was a lot of fun.
John Cusack: See you soon!
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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 (John Cusack). 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 modern detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it's too late.