It has taken a while, but director has James McTeigue has finally found a star for his Edgar Allan Poe mystery thriller The Raven. Actor John Cusack announced via his Twitter feed that he would be taking the lead role in the tale which tells a fictional account of the writer’s final five days.
Over the last several months Jeremy Renner and Ewan McGregor were attached to the project, but Cusack wrote a proclamation saying:
“officiali- will play edgar allen poe in fall-a-film called the raven, send any poe- gold - my way as i begin this journey into the abyss” *
*The spelling and punctuation belong solely to Mr Cusack.
The Raven (which is pitched as Poe meets Se7en) will follow Poe and a young detective as they try to track down a killer who has been using Poe’s work as inspiration. The film is loosely based on Poe’s mysterious final days, where he was discovered wandering in the streets in a daze, making very little sense - he died shortly after. In fact, many of Poe’s works have been brought to the screen – most famously by director Roger Corman in the 1960’s. He produced several glorious features starring Vincent Price, based on some of Poe’s greatest works – The Raven being one of them. Poe has long been seen as one of the godfathers of the mystery and detective story after penning The Murders in the Rue Morgue (itself adapted for the screen many times).
Cusack seems a pretty good fit for the role. He can do introspective and thoughtful and he has a penchant for wearing black, so physically he’s right for the part. At t his point it comes down to the script. In recent times Cusack has shown a lack of quality control in some of his film choices – Martian Child, Must Love Dogs and The Contract are a few (amongst many) which spring to mind. He’s also gone for more horror-based roles like 1408 and oft-delayed The Factory, so this would fit into his run of darker pieces.
A concern may be that the script (by Hannah Shakespeare and Ben Livingston) might have been retooled to mimic the success of Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes (himself once a contender to play Poe in a Sylvester Stallone directed feature) and go for a comedic and adventurous take on the material, rather than a dark and morbid serial killer thriller.
In many ways the brief synopsis of The Raven reminds me of the novel Nevemore by William Hjortsberg. In that tale, famed magician Houdini and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempt to track down a killer who was also using Poe's work for inspiration.
The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace has reportedly met with director James McTeigue for an unknown role in the film. There’s no word on if she’s accepted but with Cusack singed it would appear that all the right elements are coming together for The Raven to start shooting in Serbia this Fall, so any further casting announcements should be released soon.