For many Nicolas Cage is an actor who defies description.
The 58-year-old star has made more than 100 films since making his debut in 1981 and due to his tendency of taking on roles in movies both big and small, that vary dramatically in quality, he has, unfairly, become something of a meme.
Perhaps it's his tendency to take on roles in mostly bad films or his often over-exaggerated performances that have seen more people watch his films for the wrong reasons than the right ones.
However, if you actually take time to watch some of his genuinely good movies (trust us, there are plenty) and listen to him in interviews you'll find he is a very thoughtful and intelligent actor who is continuously fascinated by his craft and its potential.
That's why it was a pleasure to see that he had taken part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, to promote his new film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (where he plays himself) with fans who were allowed to ask him anything about his career.
What we were treated to was a feast of great anecdotes from Cage and his thoughts regarding his career, films, fans and what he strives for as an actor.
Here are some highlights:
On whether he hates people shouting quotes from his movies at him in the street:
"I don’t have a problem with any of the quotes, I’m glad they remember the movie."
On what his dream role would be:
"I would like to play Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo because of the character’s love of the ocean I share that with him."
On whether legendary Batman actor, Adam West, was his biggest inspiration when playing Big Daddy in Kick-Ass:
"I would give it all to Adam West. I grew up watching him on the 60s Batman show and he is where it begins and where it ends as Big Daddy. I met Adam West once and I said 'did you see I was channelling you?' and he said 'I saw you TRY to channel me!'"
On the three films of his he would preserve for posterity:
"Bringing Out the Dead, Pig, Leaving Las Vegas."
On Ethan Hawke calling him the first actor since Marlon Brando to do something new with the art of acting:
"It’s very kind of Ethan to say so, as you may well know, I’ve worked with Ethan in Lord of War and have always been spellbound by his talent. I think many of the choices I’ve made have been inspired by film stars from the silent era as well as cultural expression of performance like Kabuki and some of the Golden Age actors like Cagney so I don’t know how to say I’ve done something new because those elements are always on my mind."
On his favourite pasta shape:
"I once went to an Italian restaurant in San Francisco about 25 years ago with Charlie Sheen because they had square tube pasta and he was very interested in trying square tube pasta and we did and we loved it so much we went back the next day to try it again."
On his performance in Pig:
"Thank you. I was interested in returning to a more quiet, naturalistic style of film performance, having done a series of more operatic performance styles. The movie feels rather like a folk song to me or a poem, and the character of Rob was contending with tremendous grief and self-imposed isolation and I think we as a group of people experiencing a pandemic in 2020-21 we’re probably also having similar feelings of loss and isolation and it communicated to a nerve we were all experiencing. It's one of my favourite movies, and it's probably my best work."
On if he would do Face/Off 2:
On his performances becoming memes or gags:
"Well, let’s talk about the difference between 'meme' and the word 'gag.' My understanding is that 'meme' represents a symbol of a pop cultural movement of sorts. A 'gag' is somewhere in the realm of a diss and I don’t look at anything anymore as a diss. I see it more as a recognition of some sort of expression."
On his favourite character in literature or film:
"That is so hard to answer. I will say that James Dean’s performance as Cal in East of Eden is largely the reason I became a film actor. His role in that is one of my favourite characters in cinema. But then we can go all the way to Rasputin or we can go to Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri Karamazov is one of my favourite characters in literature. I love him so much because he’s so happy and he has no money. He’s just living it up. He spent all his money trying to get the girl. I did the same thing once. I was very Dmitri Karamazov in high school. The most beautiful girl in high school who was a grade older than me invited me to the prom but I had no money. My grandmother gave each of us a little bond. My older brother bought a car. My second oldest brother bought some stereo equipment. And I splashed out on a chauffeur-driven limousine, a tuxedo and a four-course meal at Le Dome on Sunset Blvd. The car was $2000, the stereo was $2000, and my prom night was $2000 and man, that was money well spent. THAT’s Dmitri Karamazov."
On if he likes bees:
"Yes. I would have to say they’re my favourite insect. They make us honey. Bees, and then the firefly. And ants are interesting. Bumblebees are quite adorable. Don't get me started on the praying mantis. I told David Cronenberg once that the praying mantis was the most ferocious of the insects and he so said no, and I said what is, and he said the dragonfly larvae and he said that the beast in the Alien movies was designed after the dragonfly larvae because it shoots its teeth out and when it attacks."
On if he still owns his famous snakeskin jacket from Wild at Heart:
"No, I gave it to Laura Dern. She was such an enormous part of Wild at Heart that I felt it belonged to her. But now I wish I had given it to my son instead. I would've liked him to have it. But it's okay, Laura has it."
That's just a small sample of the numerous great answers that Cage gave to fans. You can read the entire thread here.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is released in UK cinemas on April 22nd.
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