Joan Cusack: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Actress

11:30 AM 10/11/2015

by Natalie Stone

And they might surprise you.

Joan Cusack - H 2015
REX Shutterstock

Joan Cusack has won over global audiences through her Oscar-nominated roles (Working Girl in 1988 and In & Out in 1997) and memorable voice — notably recognized as Jessie in Pixar's Toy Story films — over the past two-and-a-half decades.

But beyond her vocal or comedic recognition, and being the sister of fellow actor John Cusack, The Hollywood Reporter looks at five facts you probably didn't know about the Shameless actress.

Read more Christoph Waltz: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Actor

  1. 1

    John Cusack Encouraged Her to Not Give Up

    Before Joan's film career gained momentum and she became a household name, the actress says her brother, John, encouraged her to keep her eye on the prize.

    "I think it helps to know another person in the business, because everything is such an illusion, so it's great to be able to go, 'Oh, my God! This is how it really is!' or 'This is how it happens there!' " she told AV Club. "You know, 'cause nobody knows any of it. People know more now in general, I think. So I think it was helpful to have each other."

    She also credits her father to keeping her head up: "He was in advertising, so he knew the other side to the business as well. So if someone turned you down at an audition, it wasn't necessarily personal, whoever got it — maybe it was nepotism, maybe they reminded them of their aunt or their whatever. So not to take it personally was helpful, too."

  2. 2

    She's "Shy"

    Despite her confidence in front of the camera, Cusack admits that she's "shy" behind the lens. She told Family Circle that one trait she hopes her sons don't pick up from her is her shyness. "I hope they're never as shy as I am — whether it's around new people, big groups, or in a job interview," she said.

    "I want them to be able to relax without getting nervous," Cusack told the magazine, adding, "I think acting has helped me come out of my shell, because when I play a character I can't be self-conscious."

  3. 3

    Hidden Talent: Memorization

    A hidden talent that comes in handy in her professional life is Cusack's ability to memorize easily. "I'm great at memorization, which makes learning lines easy," the actress told Family Circle.

    Other talents? Math and water ballet. "I also know geometry — my mom was a math teacher — and I did water ballet as a kid."

  4. 4

    "Honored to Play" the "'Best Friend'"

    While some actors may cringe at the thought of being typecast, Cusack embraces the "best friend" roles that are presented to her. "I've played the 'best friend,' which I'm honored to play. I feel it carries great responsibility to … say things best friends would say when I get the chance. With Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride I think I said, 'What the hell are you doin' basically," the actress told the Chicago Tribune.

    Another role she is frequently given: mother. "I've played a lot of mothers, which is also a great honor."

  5. 5

    William H. Macy Babysat Her

    Outside of their roles as intimate co-stars on Showtime's Shameless, William H. Macy and Cusack go back to childhood days.

    After praising the actress for her on-screen talents to the LA Times, Macy explained, "I've known Joan for a long, long time. I actually babysat Joan Cusack. I started acting in Chicago, and I knew her dad and I knew the Pivens, who lived across the street."

    He continued, "I babysat them a couple of times, or at least that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Byrne Piven [father of Jeremy] was one of the stalwart Chicago actors. I had a theater company called the St. Nicholas Theater Company that I'd started with Dave Mamet and Steven Schachter."

    "And Byrne Piven acted with us several times, and he took me under his wing. He would hire me to come up to Evanston to do light carpentry. I think half the time he actually needed something fixed, and half the time he was throwing work my way because he knew I needed it," he said. "And the Cusacks lived right across the street. Joan's mom still talks about a set of bookshelves that I built that are right inside their front door."

    Read more Michael Keaton: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Actor