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Joan Cusack talks about playing Mom

Mars Needs Moms
29 March 2011

JOAN CUSACK has received two Academy Award® nominations, first for her role in “Working Girl,” and again for “In & Out.” She was the recipient of an American Comedy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in “Runaway Bride.”

Cusack has starred in such films as “Friends with Money,” “Raising Helen,” “Arlington Road,” “High Fidelity,” “Where the Heart Is,” “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “Nine Months,” “Corrina, Corrina,” “My Blue Heaven,” “Broadcast News,” “Say Anything,” “Sixteen Candles” and “My Sister’s Keeper.”

Cusack reprised the role of Jessie this summer in Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” which became the highest grossing animated film of all time. Cusack portrays Mom in “Mars Needs Moms.”

Here she talks about her character and what made her want to join the film.



What made you want to take part in “Mars Needs Moms”?

I love being Mom.  I have kids—I have a passion for being a mom.  So from the beginning, I thought this part was so awesome.

I loved the script that Wendy [Wells] and Simon [Wells] wrote—they’re parents who clearly relate to the story—and I thought it was a great story. I love the idea that if you’re a parent, it’s not about being a friend. It’s not about being your child’s friend. It’s much more than that. It’s more selfless than that. And because of that, you have to do the hard things and say the hard things that are important for your child to develop the right way. This really shows her to be a universal Mom that cares.  It’s all about building real character in children, which is really the role of a mom. 


Describe your character Mom in “Mars Needs Moms” and what happens in the beginning of the movie.

She looks a lot like me.  The character is a universal Mom that cares.  It’s a slice-of-life, very normal day.  She has fun with her son, teasing him a little bit to get him to do the right thing.  There’s a lot of joy with him and a fun playfulness to her.  She has a sweet love for her husband.

But she’s the one who tells Milo that there are consequences for bad behavior. She tells him to eat his vegetables, clear the table and go to bed. And he says the same thing every single kid says to a mom who’s doing her job, which is basically “I hate you” or “I wish you weren’t in my life.”  It’s very typical.  It’s a hard job being a parent—and sometimes when you’re tired they know the right buttons to push.


Who portrays Milo? 

Seth Green plays Milo.  He has exuberance.  What’s so wonderful about him is he’s able to be a professional and translate a real vision that Simon and Wendy have created, and do it well with great commitment and energy and discipline.  It’s a lot of physical work and it’s a lot of imaginative work.  He’s amazing.  We did a scene that was very emotional and he was just incredibly present and awesome.


How do you feel about the rest of the “Mars Needs Moms” cast?

Dan Fogler is so sweet and soulful. He’s one of those actors who’s already an original—he’s a giving entertainer—some people are just born to entertain.

Mindy Sterling just blows my doors off. She’s just awesome. She’s a mom and a professional and that’s not always easy.


What is your impression of director Simon Wells?

Simon [Wells] is incredibly thorough and thoughtful about the entire world.  He’s so great because his background in animation helps give all of his work purpose and thoughtfulness.  
He’s an incredible director; he’s just so interesting and smart.  He takes you right to the feeling, and comes up with different, fun ways of conveying that.  This kind of filmmaking is such a great medium for him because he can be right there.  It’s much more like theater.  You get to act with a sense of privacy, because the cameras are all far away and you’re just acting with the person that you’re acting with.  Simon is not self-conscious about anything, and because he’s such a good, giving person, the actors don’t feel self-conscious having him there.  We felt watched and supported; he gets it.



Mars Needs Moms Film Page | Joan Cusack Profile

Mars Needs Moms is released across the UK in Disney Digital 3D and 2D on April 8th