Cusack was born on June 28, 1966 at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood and grew up in Evanston, Illinois. He was born into an Irish Catholic family and fourth of five children. His mother, Ann Paula "Nancy" (née Carolan), is a former mathematics teacher and political activist. His father, Richard Cusack (1925–2003), was an actor, along with John's siblings Ann, Joan, Bill, and Susie. They moved from Manhattan, New York to Illinois. Richard was also a documentary filmmaker who owned a film production company and was a friend of activist Philip Berrigan. Cusack graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1984, where he met Jeremy Piven, and spent a year at New York University before dropping out, saying that he had "too much fire in his belly".