A role to remember

In an industry dominated by tropes, standing out for doing one thing very well is no crime

 John  Cusack  at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
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Every actor seeks a defining role to break away from the hungry pack, but sometimes they find that fame is a double-edged sword. Today’s standout performance can land you with a lifetime of typecasting.

John Cusack, who was profiled in our Arts& Life section on Sunday, has had a decades-long career across all genres, and has worked with many great actors and directors. And yet he finds that in interviews and conversations, the subject often turns to a film he made nearly 30 years ago, the Cameron Crowe romantic comedy Say Anything, in which his character serenades his girlfriend while holding a ghetto blaster over his head.

There are any other examples. For many people, Jennifer Aniston will always be Rachel from Friends. Christopher Lee was always a villain. Christopher Walken is always, well, Christopher Walken.

As Cusack says, being fondly remembered for something you did at 21 is “a good problem to have”. Those of us who don’t breathe the rarefied air of Hollywood would agree.