She may have been born in New York and raised in Evanston, but actress Joan Cusack is a true Chicagoan.
The Oscar-nominated local, who was born on Oct. 11, won a Jefferson Award for her work in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Goodman Theatre in 1991, and she earned five Emmy nods for her role on the Chicago-set TV series, “Shameless,” finally winning in 2015.
In 1999, Cusack sat down with columnist Cindy Pearlman. Here are a few highlights from that interview:
Q. People mostly think of you as being funny. What did it feel like to play the straight role in “Arlington Road”?
A. It’s just nice, because it is a choice to be funny. But I feel like I grew up studying acting, and it’s nice to be able to exercise those muscles. It feels real, especially since in Hollywood I always get thought of as quirky. (In a high-pitched voice:) “She’s the quirky girl!”
Q. How has being a mom changed your views about Hollywood?
A. It is a wonderful, luxurious, great career to be able to do films. But you realize it’s a job. The best things in life are balancing job and family. Your actual life seems more important. Yes, having a kid is hard, but it’s just incredible. You know that’s what you’re here for on this planet.
Q. You also have “Runaway Bride” coming out this summer. What was it like to work with that “Pretty Woman”?
A. Before we started, I kept wondering, “What is Julia going to be like? This is a person who is so larger-than-life and on every magazine. How do you handle that?” But she was great and real. She’s smart. She’s nice. We had a birthday party for her on the set and she wrote everyone a thank-you note.
Q. And now for our obligatory question, about why you still live in Chicago?
A. Because people in Chicago go to the movies for two hours and then they go on and do other things. That’s just sort of refreshing.