SAN DIEGO - John Cusack has professed his admiration for 19th Century American writer Edgar Allen Poe for years.  In fact, he worked for sometime in trying to get a biopic about the novelist off the ground.  It wasn't a surprise then, when he agreed to play Poe in James McTeague's new thriller "The Raven."

McTeague (best known for helming "V for Vendetta") joined Cusack and "Raven" stars Alice Eve ("She's Out of My League") and Luke Evans ("Immortals") in discussing the Relativity Media release at Comic-Con International 2011 in San Diego on Friday.  Before discussing the film, however, the 5,000 or so attendees in Hall H were given the first glimpse at the film's trailer.  The only footage shown during the presentation, the trailer makes the picture look something like an American "Sherlock Holmes.' The fictional story finds Edgar Allen Poe trying to solve the mystery of who is using his novels for inspiration for murder. Evans plays a police inspector hoping Poe's knowledge of his own work can help solve the murders (an eccentric paired with a more buttoned up gentleman to solve crimes in the 1800's? Where have we seen that lately?).  Eve is one of Poe's romantic interests who finds herself buried alive by the twisted villain.  In theory, it looks like a handsomely made production in the "Sleepy Hollow" - "Holmes" mold until you discover it takes place five days before Poe's actual death.  No, there won't be a sequel to this one.

After the trailer finished, McTeague gave more back story to the picture. It finds Poe suffering from writer's block basically as a series of murders start to happen in Baltimore.  Each death is seemingly based on one of Poe's stories.  It's a scenareo where a number one fan who has gone completely over the edge. Whether Poe can help track that "fan" down, however, is unclear. 

Cusack talked about the author whose work might not be that recognizable to today's audiences.

"He was a bit of a rock star in his day," Cusack says. "He had written 'The Raven' [which helped make him] world famous and had a huge ego. He had a charisma to him. He was funny. He was the godfather of goth."

For Eve, who also appears in next year's "Men in Black III," this is one of her first real roles outside of a few romantic comedies and clearly it wasn't easy.

"I was buried alive and I had to eat a lot of dirt and James ended up being the person who would throw it in my face," Eve recalls. "And then he would get engrossed in the monitor and how it looked.  I had a spit bucket.  It was rough. We were in Serbia.  Method."

That got a laugh from the audience and forced smiles from her fellow panelists (read into that what you may).  Sometimes the truth is harder to hide than you'd like it to be. 

As for the rest of the panel, besides a number of fan questions peppered with love for some of Cusack's impressive roster of films ("Sixteen Candles," "High Fidelity," "Say Anything"), it really kept coming back to the actor's knowledge and passion for Poe.

"He didn't like any men," Cusack reveal.s "He wanted to get in a duel with them or insult them. He just felt much more comfortable with women and idealized them.  Almost muse-like. He had this very idealized vision of women that [went] back to his mother and wife dying of tuberculosis. He would go to these salons and high society functions and women would swoon over him. He went to the White House and got drunk. Got kicked out. He was sort of a bad boy."

"The Raven" will make its mark on moviegoers on March 9.