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Arts and Entertainment

Decision to do ‘Utopia’ was a no-brainer: Hollywood star John Cusack

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By PTI Updated: Sep 22, 2020 2:20 pm
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New Delhi, Sep. 22 (PTI): Hollywood star John Cusack has largely stayed away from the small screen during his career of over three decades but when the opportunity to play Dr Kevin Christie in Amazon series “Utopia” came his away, the actor said he just couldn’t say no to it.

The 54-year-old actor has headlined and been part of international hits like “Serendipity”, “High Fidelity”, “Con Air” and “2012” but “Utopia” marks his first full-fledged outing on a streaming platform.

The reason for saying yes to the show was Gillian Flynn, who has adapted the series from Dennis Kelly’s 2013 British show of the same name, Cusack said.

“I hadn’t really been offered anything that I thought was really good or that I wanted to do. And this was the first thing that came along and had a great writer and it was a terrific part.

“So it was kind of easy, no brainer for me because she sent me all eight episodes and I started reading them and it was a real page-turner. I read the entire eight episodes in one day because I wanted to see what happened next. It was very surprising and terrific writing. So, it was nice to be asked by her to do it,” Cusack told PTI during a group interview on Zoom.

Utopia” is centered around a posse of conspiracy theorists who finds out that a graphic novel has clues about the pandemic that is raging through the US. Along the way, they meet Jessica Hyde, the lead protagonist of the novel.

Cusack’s Christie is an Elon Musk-esque philanthropist and the CEO of a biotech giant that has created a synthetic meat that could be making people sick.

“He’s somebody who wakes up every day, believing that he can make the world a better place through science. The series opens up and he’s trying to create a plant-based food that can be made in a lab where you don’t have to use land or water. So he thinks that he has a world-changing revolutionary science.

“It happens that the food that he’s created, there’s some suspicion that it could be part of a virus. And so that’s how he gets entered into the story.”

One of the most striking features of Cusack’s character is the question he constantly poses as a challenge to others, which is: “What have you done today to earn your place in this crowded world?”

The actor said the aim behind the question is to remind people close to Christie about their purpose in the world and what they must do to make it better.

“I think the question that he asks and poses, a lot of people think about every day when they think about social justice and where the world is moving towards and how the world ideologies of the last century of capitalism and communism ended up doing the exact same things in the end, which is kind of ripping out the bowels of the earth and making the planet unsustainable.

“So I think those larger questions are asked by a lot of people who try to figure out how to be moral in a very complicated world. Yeah, it was a provocative question that I think most people think about a lot.”

Cusack has been one of the most vocal actors from Hollywood who has never minced his words when it comes to advocating for important causes.

He has a special relationship with India vis-a-vis author and activist Arundhati Roy. The two, along with US whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, had famously met Edward Snowden in Russia back in 2015.

So, over the years, Cusack has been supporting major movements in India through his social media handles.

“I’ve been there (India) a few times and I have a great friendship with Arundhati Roy…We worked together on some activist things and wrote some essays together about our meeting with Edward Snowden in Russia with Daniel Ellsberg and her.

“So I’ve gotten to know about India by going there and through her eyes, which is quite extraordinary. So that’s where my interest in India and Kashmir and all those issues came from. I’m just trying to understand the world,” the actor said. “Utopia”, which also features Rainn Wilson, Sasha Lane, Desmin Borges, Dan Byrd, Jessica Rothe, Ashleigh LaThrop and Christopher Denham, will start streaming on Amazon Prime Video from September 25.

6092
By PTI Updated: Sep 22, 2020 2:20:06 pm