Watching “High Fidelity” 19 years after its release spotlights many nostalgic specifics – the loving curation of mix tapes (on, you know, tape, not some click-drag-drop playlist), the tracking down of an ex in the phone book, the landline that was the only connection between two people who wanted to have a conversation.
It is also a reminder of the loose charm and soulful eyes of star John Cusack, who was in his early 30s at the time the rom-com based on a Nick Hornby book was filmed in Cusack’s beloved Chicago.
On Friday night, the now-52-year-old actor/producer/screenwriter visited Atlanta Symphony Hall for an interview session following a screening of the film (also a “High Fidelity” hoot – the sight of a youthfully seductive Catherine Zeta-Jones, a luminous Lisa Bonet, a goober-sh Tim Robbins and a tolerable Jack Black).
In his uniform of dark sneakers, jacket and baseball cap, the soft-spoken Cusack chatted amiably with media maven Mara Davis, who moderated the session and impressively thwarted the annoying and rude shout-outs from many in the packed venue.
After mentioning that his own list of favorite music today – the gimmick of “High Fidelity” is the obsessive habit of Cusack’s Rob Gordon to list his Top 5 everything – would include Miles Davis and The Clash, Cusack dove into Davis’ question about “Love & Mercy,” the 2014 Brian Wilson drama that starred Cusack as the ‘80s-era Beach Boys virtuoso.
“He created this certain sound and then started to make other music and (people were like), where’s the hit? He was a genius, he was ahead of his time,” Cusack said. “I’m happy he and (wife) Melinda were happy with the film because it’s his life.”
When Davis asked if Cusack watched the film with Wilson, he laughed and said, “F*** no!”
Other topics touched on during the session included Cusack’s love of The Clash (he’ll think about playing Joe Strummer but, “I wouldn’t want to f*** it up!”); politics (the liberal Cusack is outspoken on social media and says he’s talked politics with Clint Eastwood – whom he worked with in Georgia on “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” - and said Eastwood is “more Libertarian than an arch-conservative guy.”); and his High Times award for “Hot Tub Time Machine” (when Davis asked where he keeps the trophy, Cusack laughed, “I don’t know that I ever got it!”).
He’s also readying a new series on Amazon, “Utopia,” written by “Gone Girl” and “Sharp Objects” darling Gillian Flynn.
This is Cusack’s first experience with episodic TV and he said while he isn’t yet sure what to expect, he likes the idea that, “you don’t have to cram to put things into an hour and a half, two hours, for a movie.”
Following his Atlanta appearance, Cusack’s movie tour leads him to Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday for a “High Fidelity” screening and then Washington, D.C. on May 16. He’ll then hit Dallas, Tulsa, Okla., and Knoxville, Tenn., for showings of another fan favorite, “Say Anything” before going back to “High Fidelity” July 26 in Fort Lauderdale.
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