From internet memes to a slew of movies, this is the Age of Cage, but Nicolas Cage himself revealed that as he approaches his 60th birthday he is taking stock. He told a sold-out audience at the Red Sea Film Festival that he was winding down his film career after 45 years and over 100 films: “I want to do television; maybe Broadway.” His decision – inspired in part by his son Kal-El showing him “Breaking Bad” — won’t be final, as he has several film projects in the pipeline, including “Sympathy for the Devil,” co-starring festival jury member Joel Kinnaman and a sequel to 2005’s “Lord of War” — “My character’s son grows up and becomes a rival. It’s very Arthurian,” he said.
The Academy Award winning actor hyped by the “good energy” in the room talked through the four decades of his career and every film mentioned was greeted by whoops and applause from an enthusiastic to the point of deafening audience. Cage explained his name change – “Filmmakers don’t want the name Coppola above the title of their movies” – and shared many stories that spanned his entire career, at one point simply responding to whatever film the audience cried out. “Face/Off” was mentioned: “That one might be a masterpiece,” he said. “Ghost Rider” – “It’s like Disney made a film about Faust; like a tattoo which came to life.” Cage spotted a fan holding up a poster for the film and called her to the stage to show the audience, revealing he often goes on eBay to buy memorabilia from his own films as well as comic books of which he’s an avid collector.
Had acting not turned out, his Plan B had been to become a fisherman in Alaska, and so couldn’t help but talk about some of the films which got away. He was in play for the George Clooney role in “A Perfect Storm.” The film which he most regrets losing and which got the biggest cheer of the night was “Superman,” with Cage as the Man of Steel and Tim Burton directing: “The studio wanted Renny Harlin and were frightened it would cost too much money so they shut it down.”
While making “City of Angels” his decision to not blink as the angel was in preparation, he said, for playing the otherworldliness of Kal-El (a.k.a. Clark Kent) in the planned “Superman,” which would have immediately followed it. Cage also noted that he’d approached David Bowie to write a theme song for “Superman.”
The “Wild at Heart” star also paid respect to those who helped him in his career such as “Valley Girl” director Martha Coolidge who picked his headshot out of a pile; his uncle Francis Ford Coppola “was like a dad to me,” and co-stars such as Sean Connery. “He wanted to play golf and I wanted to go fishing and so we ended up talking about movies.” Cage’s clear intellectual philosophy when it comes to screen acting was clear. “Independent dramatic cinema is my well,” he said. And throughout the talk he characterized himself as a student always trying to push himself into zones of discomfort. He listed his top five screenplays as “Raising Arizona,” “Vampire’s Kiss,” “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Adaptation” and “Dream Scenario.” Two of his favorite films are “Pig” and “Dream Scenario.”
Securing an Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas” was like getting tenure, Cage said. “My uncle sent a telegram that read ‘Congratulations Nicky, from Francis Cage.’” Having achieved critical recognition, Cage embarked on an unexpected stint as an action hero in films such as “The Rock” and “Con Air.” More recently he discovered that he had become a meme, googling his own name to find a series of videos entitled “Nicolas Cage loses his shit.” The shock left him “confused, frustrated and a little stimulated.” His new film “Dream Project,” about a man who finds that he is appearing in everyone’s dreams, is directly related to Cage’s own changing relationship to fame: “I suffered from the memification and my character suffers from the dreamification.” It also features what he describes as “the most humiliating love scene in the history of cinema.”
Now Cage has taken to picking his projects more “severely and stringently” and is acutely aware of the passage of time. “I have a 15-month-old daughter waiting for me at home.” Asked if he shows his children his films, he laughs “absolutely not. We watch the cartoon ‘Invincible.’ It’s wild.”