First Look: John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in 'The Raven' -- EXCLUSIVE


Image Credit: Larry Horricks

Given that he wrote about people who were slowly tortured, buried alive, and haunted by seemingly malevolent animals – and also married his 13-year-old cousin — it’s really saying something when you creep-out Edgar Allan Poe.

But that’s what happens in The Raven (out March 9), starring John Cusack as the doomed author in a fictionalized story set in 1849 about the hunt for a serial killer who takes macabre inspiration from his tales.

Click through for more about the story …

The serial killer in The Raven uses inspiration from Poe the way the murder in Se7en borrowed his motif from the Seven Deadly Sins.

“He does one like The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Pit and Pendulum and works through Poe’s stories in an increasingly gruesome way, whilst at same time kidnapping his fiancé,” says director James McTeigue (best known for V For Vendetta).

The fiancé is played by Alice Eve (Crossing Over) and Brendan Gleeson (28 Days Later) co-stars as her father, Colonel Hamilton – who has a combative relationship with her much older husband-to-be.

While this relationship in Poe’s life has been fictionalized, the real Poe was a troubled figure, most likely suffering from depression after the death of his aforementioned young wife, and he was also believed to be an alcoholic. Shortly before his death, the cause of which remains under debate (though the movie will have its theories), he was found wandering in clothes that didn’t belong to him and raving inexplicably.

“We have real elements from Poe’s life, in and out of the story. He was a troubled figure and that’s alluded to in the film. Ultimately he becomes one of the characters in his own story,” McTeigue says.

Cusack was chosen as the lead because the filmmaker felt he could embody both heroism and darkness: “I wanted someone who could show all the demons but ultimately you would connect with him. People respond to him, but I also thought in the character of John Cusack there’s a darker side.”

For more movie news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter: @Breznican.

Comments (28 total) Add your comment
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  • Kvivik

    Very Interesting!
    As a Poe fan (and a John Cusak fan) I’ll be sure to check it out.

    • M


  • jack c horn

    He’s a little old to betray a 24 year old, but then I guess its better than a babyfaced heart throb.

    • Prentice

      Poe was 36 when he wrote “The Raven”

    • Virginia

      Poe was 40 when he died.

  • mark

    Looks just like robert downey jr. in sherlock holmes.

    • Abz

      or johnny depp in ‘sweeney todd’ or ‘from hell’, for that matter…

      • nick

        except he doesn’t have uh…black and gray hair. it’s just black hair. hair is hair.

  • Bob

    Gee, your hair color looks totally fake.

  • R.J. MacReady

    I thought the latest theory on his death was rabies not alcoholism.

    • Trev

      I thought the rabies thing was disputed because of differing accounts about him drinking water or sucking ice-cubes. There is also a theory that he was kidnapped by vote riggers who got people to dress as others to vote.

  • Brian

    The first line of this article makes no sense. Given that he did all those things and…..what? Sorry to be the grammar police here but I am nitpicking the article, not another user’s comment.

    • Kevin

      There are numerous issues with the grammar in this piece.

  • Gregoire

    So this is Sherlock Holmes, The Alienist From Hell … in America?

  • jane

    Is there a trailer for this? Could be awesome!

  • Frank from

    I normally don’t comment on matters outside of music but…

    Nicolas Cage sure looks thinner nowadays!

    “WHY AM I NOT IN THIS MOVIE???!!!” – Andy Samberg as Nicolas Cage on SNL

  • Buddymoore

    Why is he dressed as Nicolas Cage?

  • Sara

    @ Frank & @ Buddymoore – you guys took the words right out of my mouth. I saw the photo first, the capition second, and thought that this was Nic Cage! Who knew that he & John were twins separated at birth?

  • jain

    He’s a little older than Poe, who was 40 in 1849. That’s fine. However he does not look at all like him, and what’s with the beard?

  • David

    If only the movie didn’t have John Cusack in it. His appeal is very limited and will detract any seriousness from this film. I may see it when it hits video, but I’m in no hurry. If only they had cast someone else….drats!

    • Groov

      Hmm… Almost 60 movies in a nearly 30 year career and virtually everyone I know loves him. In fairness, he hasn’t always had the most stellar choice in roles but I completely fail to see this limited appeal you speak of. Maybe you meant a different word? Or maybe you meant that only you don’t like him?

  • Henri M.

    This is really disappointing. Whatever happened to the Poe biopic that was going to be directed by Stallone?

  • JazzK

    His appeal will detract from any seriousness? See “Grace Is Gone” or “Max” – uncompromising, wrenching performances. How he didn’t get nominated for “Grace is Gone” I’ll never know. “Max” and “The Grifters” has nothing but Cusack’s dark side. McTeigue is spot on with his casting. No way would I have gone to see Jude Law or Sean Penn play their umpteenth tortured character. Casting Cusack was sharp, fresh thinking.

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