When FLARE’s Briony Smith told Maps to the Stars’ Cusack, 48, that he’s an industry treasure, he looked over his shoulder to see who she was talking about—proving he’s every bit as charming as you’d imagine. Here, he opens up about his role as a creepy self-help guru.
Maps to the Stars excited me because… the combo of David Cronenberg and writer Bruce Wagner was incredibly strange, a mixture of oil and vinegar. David is rigorous, surgical and relentlessly intense, and Bruce is so fast-twitch synapse, like an Escher maze on speed. Then to work with Julianne and this great cast…
The scariest thing about it was… how dark and savage my character is.
Portraying violence against women onscreen à la Maps is… very difficult. You wanna go for it, but it’s also repelling, what you’re doing, so mostly I’m just worried, like, “Are you OK? Are you OK?”
My inspiration for Stafford Weiss was… Los Angeles: all that mythology, all that bullsh-t that attracts predators, carnival barkers, snake-oil salesmen, strange, cult-y gurus. It’s the land of the American cult. There are people who are desperate and wanna understand themselves, so other people try to help those people and think of new ideas, but then there’s also a bunch of people who are like, “Oh, sh-t, there are marks everywhere.”