John Cusack Calls 'Shanghai' Unique Opportunity

Known for alternating between mainstream Hollywood and independent films, John Cusack says his latest movie “Shanghai” is a rare middle ground between the two genres. 

Speaking at a set visit in Bangkok on Saturday, the 42-year-old star of movies like “Serendipity” and “Being John Malkovich” called “Shanghai” a unique project that combines the artistry of independent film with the resources of a commercial movie.

“To do something that has a big budget, a great scope with a great director and great actors that has the quality and level of writing and the level of production design … is a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Cusack said.

Shot in London and Bangkok, “Shanghai” is budgeted at more than $10 million — still small by Hollywood standards but big for an Asian production.

Cusack said once he heard the filmmakers were interested in casting him, he aggressively lobbied for the part.

“Any actor in his right mind would want to do this film — would die to do it,” he said.

In “Shanghai,” Cusack plays an American intelligence official who investigates a friend’s death in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1941 in the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II. The movie also features Hong Kong’s Chow Yun-fat, Chinese actress Gong Li and Japan’s Ken Watanabe.

Cusack called his co-stars “the greatest artists from Asia” and said it was an honor to work with them.

Shooting for the first time in Asia, the American actor said he hasn’t had the chance to explore Thailand because of a busy shooting schedule but has enjoyed the warmth of the Thai people.

“I would really come back for the people. The Thai people seem to be incredibly generous, warm, kind of loving people. So it’s very nice to be around them. The crews are magnificent and everybody I’ve met in my brief time off has been lovely,” he said.

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