LOS ANGELES -- It's an unseasonably warm April day, but actor John Cusack's wearing a long black coat. The combination of the outerwear and his raven black hair makes him look quite pale, something you rarely see in Southern California.Toss in the intense way he talks about his work on "The Raven," a fictional story on the last days of writer Edgar Allan Poe, and the actor is only a few pounds away from being the character he obsessed about during the filming. He was so passionate about the proper way of playing Poe, Cusack lost 25 pounds just to better look like the author who was plagued by self-doubt and alcoholism."When I got home after filming, I did scare my family. They were like, 'What the [expletive deleted]?' It was really sad. I was pretty strung out. But it was the kind of thing where you just have to go all in," Cusack says.The film is a fictional murder mystery where Poe's famous works are the inspiration for a series of killings.It didn't matter to Cusack that the story wasn't a biography of the author. He wanted to play the role as true to the real Poe as he could. His approach was to get under the skin of the author. But, in doing so, he discovered that Poe got under his skin.He became concerned with every detail, from wardrobe to dialogue. Cusack read volumes of works by -- and about -- Poe before filming started. He became so driven that Cusack wanted to use as much of Poe's own words as possible."I think he was a perpetual orphan of the world. He was a genius, and he was kind of a bastard. And, he was a rogue. And he was all of the things that you would think of him naturally. He was inward looking, melancholy, soulful and all those things," Cusack says. "I just thought if I can immerse myself in that, if I can feel that, it would be a great challenge."Cusack tries to play his characters with as much depth and honesty as possible. He finds himself drawn to underdogs and flawed characters like Poe. In his research, Cusack began to realize that Poe, who once showed up at the White House drunk, would probably fit perfectly in today's world of celebrity obsessions."He was completely flawed and [expletive deleted] up, and all those things," Cusack says.