John Cusack revives film about the young Hitler. The actor signs on to play an art dealer in ''Max,'' after the project was shunned by Hollywood and other thespians
John Cusack
Credit: John Cusack: Fitzroy Barrett/Globe Photos

When screenwriter Menno Meyjes (”The Siege,” ”The Color Purple”) decided to make his directorial debut with ”Max,” his portrait of Hitler as a young artist, Hollywood was less than thrilled. Producers balked and few actors were even willing to attend the casting call. ”I’m sitting in L.A. and no one wanted to see me,” says Meyjes. ”I was just going to go home,” when John Cusack read the script and agreed to play art dealer Max Rothman. (Noah Taylor, who played the adolescent version of Geoffrey Rush in ”Shine,” is Hitler.)

Now, Lions Gate, which will release the film Dec. 27, is backing ”Max”’s Oscar hopes, and Cusack and Meyjes are planning their next project, a biopic about American healer Edward Casey for Revolution. Asked to describe the Casey film, which he hopes will begin shooting next summer, the neophyte director exclaims, ”It’s all about faith!” And he would know.

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