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John Cusack On His Role In The Eerily Relevant Amazon Series Utopia [LRM Exclusive Interview]


Today is the release of Amazon Prime Video’s Utopia. This conspiracy thriller follows a group of fans of all ages that comes together when they discover that the conspiracy of an elusive comic, Utopia, is real. Now this group of underdogs must go on a dangerous journey to try and not only save themselves but humanity. The series is written by Gillian Flynn who also serves as executive producer.

The creepy part about Utopia is that there are a lot of parallels with what we are seeing during our real-life pandemic. Who would have thought that a series that is based on a 2013 British series by the same name would be so relevant today for the wrong reasons. In the series, they are also dealing with a rising pandemic.

With the series premiering this week, we had the privilege to talk with actor John Cusack. In Utopia, he portrays a billionaire, Dr. Kevin Christie who is trying to take on global problems like climate change and world hunger. He has even invented his own kind of meat that does not come from animals.

Along with that he also leads what I can only describe as a cult. Something that the series dives into more and more as it progresses. As the group of misfits mentioned above, Christie is also after Utopia. This is because his vision for a better tomorrow requires sacrifice. A great sacrifice that is described in the pages of Utopia.

You can check out the interview below. Then you can check out Amazon Prime Video’s eight-episode Utopia now on their streaming service.


Emmanuel Gomez: would you consider your character villain?

John Cusack: I would say whatever you think you know about the characters and the moral judgments you make on them will get put into a blender and pureed again and again. So by the end of it, you’ve gone through people being heroes and villains and trading places many times over. So, kind of an interesting piece that way.

Emmanuel Gomez: Could you describe your relationship between you and Thomas? There was a couple of times within the season that looks like you guys kind of are at odds with each other.

John Cusack: Yeah. Thomas is the only biological heir to the Christie empire. So I think he feels like an enormous weight of that. Also living under his father’s shadow and trying to prove himself. He’s also, like in a lot of court dramas, or Shakespearian dramas, or corporate espionage dramas, he’s trying to also clear the way for any competition within Christie court, that might threaten his interests. So there’s a lot of that going on too.

Emmanuel Gomez: Following up with that. Do you think that your character sees him as a threat maybe for trying to usurp him in the future? Do you think he’s trying to groom him?

John Cusack: I think he’s grooming him to take over, but Christie still has a lot to do. I think Christie will use almost anyone in the story if he feels that they’re fulfilling their purpose to achieve the goal of saving the world.

Emmanuel Gomez: So do you think that he’d be able to sacrifice him for the cause? Like some of the other people?

John Cusack: Well, they talk about it. They talk about what that means and they verbalize and talk about what kind of sacrifices they both have to make. So it’s hard to talk about it without giving away a lot of the plot because it happened, but you’ll see.

Emmanuel Gomez: How important for the doctor is it to be in good standings with the public relations? Because we see him flare up during some of those interviews.

John Cusack: Christie’s always somebody who’s playing kind of three-dimensional chess and he’s doing it on multiple levels. So even what appears to be maybe a public relations problem could be something that he sees as an opportunity or maybe he had a hand in planning it. So he’s definitely always thinking three, four or five steps ahead. He is absolutely a very media-savvy creature, and we see a lot of them now today where it’s almost as if their wealth and power really only work if they have a public brand to the face of what they’re doing. They’re very out there and very vocal and visible, which is a slightly more modern phenomenon.

Emmanuel Gomez: Do you feel there are any parallels between some of the events in utopia and what we’re seeing right now in 2020 in the world? Are there any moments in particular where maybe you saw something in the real world that you remembered from the series or vice versa?

John Cusack: Of course. I mean in a very surreal way. The themes of dystopia and massive global warming and what that means for the globe and the planet. That’s very much in the theme of the piece. They’re at home and see effects of global warming and fires, droughts, and flooding. We look up and see, we didn’t know, but in a very surreal way we made this series and you can see the west coast is on fire and there’s a pandemic. So yeah, it’s eerily close to reality sometimes in a surreal way.

Emmanuel Gomez: I just want to get your thoughts on one of the characters you used to do your bidding. Can you tell me a little bit about Arby and what it was like to see Christopher Denham take on that character?

John Cusack: Arby and Jessica are wonderful. All the characters are very wonderful, but Arby and Jessica have, really are things. I don’t know if you’ve characters like that before. I think they’re very original and wonderful performances by two great actors.


Emmanuel Gomez: Why do you think it’s important for the doctor to keep his followers away from some of those worldly possessions? Like the sweets and the makeup, once they start finding these things, it kind of changes their views on everything that they’ve thought they know.

John Cusack: It’s hard to talk about some of the things that happened in the middle of it without spoiling sort of the plots and the reels. But he has one biological son, then he has a lot of adopted children. Then you find out that he has another kind of group of people that he’s collected that maybe it seems almost kind of like a cult. It’s hard to talk about it without giving away the plot. So I don’t mean to be evasive. It’s just, I think it’d be better for people to experience it without knowing what’s coming.

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