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John Cusack promotes 'The Raven' at Comic-Con and lists his top pieces of Poe

John Cusack, who stars as Edgar Allan Poe in "The Raven," a fictional suspense riff on Poe's work and life, teamed up with his director, James McTeague ("V for Vendetta"), and his costars, Alice Eve ("She's Out of My League") and Luke Evans ("Immortals"), to promote the March 2012 release at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday.

Thousands of fans assembled to discover what readers of this blog learned last December when one of the film's producer's, Marc D. Evans, told me: "It's in the same genre as films like 'Sherlock Holmes' or 'Sleepy Hollow' -– not quite as dark and serious as 'From Hell,' but more commercial, with a little dose of 'Se7en': You follow a killer through a series of crimes, and you're rooting for someone to save the day, save the city…It's set in the last few days of Poe's life, when he was unaccounted for, for some period of time, before he turned up incoherent and died shortly after. Our story takes that and accounts for what happened. It starts with his return to Baltimore in this period. About the same time a series of killings starts, and the killer is using Poe's stories as inspiration. So Poe is first a suspect and must work with a Baltimore police inspector to solve a series of crimes, not just to clear to clear his name, but because his fiancée is kidnapped. We took a little bit of artistic license!" (For my post with Marc D. Evans, click here.)

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The Comic-Con fans also got a look at the trailer, and some words from the director and the cast. Alice Eve let on that her character gets "buried alive" (a Poe motif).

But the focus was on Cusack. He reportedly characterized Poe as funny, charismatic, egotistical and competitive (at least with other men) -- "a rock star in his day" as well as "the godfather of Goth." Cusack offered a brief psycho-biography of the writer as a fellow who was "more comfortable with women" and developed a "muse-like" vision of the opposite sex after his mother died of tuberculosis and his wife did, too.

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According to Entertainment Weekly, Cusack also listed his favorite five pieces of Poe. They include one poem -- "The Raven" -- and four short stories: the familiar "Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Pit and the Pendulum," and the relatively rare "Hop-Frog: or, The Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs" -- a lethally sardonic tale of a court jester's revenge.

"The Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe" dates "Hop-Frog" as appearing on "March 17, 1849." That's roughly seven months before Poe's death and the events depicted in Cusack's movie. Cusack is a sensational actor. He also does his homework.

Photo of Cusack at "Raven" panel by Kevin Winter for Getty.

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