Adaptation was on HBO the other night, and I realized I’d forgotten what a versatile actor Nicolas Cage can be. Then Moonstruck came on right after, and I fell in love with him all over again. How could I have forgotten Leaving Las Vegas? Raising Arizona?
No, I know. It’s easy to forget to take him seriously, thanks to this supercut (NSFW) and that hairline.
Empire Magazine somehow convinced Nic to go live on a “webchat,” fielding questions from fans in real-time. I admit I have never laughed so hard in my life, yes, but now I have no doubt he is a mad genius.
I am not overselling when I call this the Most Amazing Nicolas Cage Interview You Will Ever Read, you guys. I have selected some of my favorite excerpts.
On what to watch during a Nic Cage triple-feature:
“I think the best way to have a trilogy of movies is to find ones that are diverse and provide a kind of counterpoint, so I would go Adaptation, Con Air and Bad Lieutenant.”
See, I liked my inadvertent Adaptation/Moonstruck double-bill, but I really like Nic’s suggestion, too. Very nice.
On whether he has ever regretted passing on a movie role:
“The only reason why I tend to pass on a movie is, either I don’t think I’m right for the material and can’t play it honestly, or because of time constraints with personal things in my life. There were two movies that asked me to go to Australia or New Zealand for long periods of time. One was Lord of the Rings and one was The Matrix.”
On whether he’d like to cinematically revisit any of his characters:
“I would like to hook up with one of the great Japanese filmmakers, like the master that made Ringu, and I would like to take The Wicker Man to Japan, except this time he’s a ghost.”
OH MY GOD.
Someone named Roxanne wonders what it was like to play the dual characters of John Blaze/Ghost Rider.
And oh, boy, Roxanne. In asking this question you really must have tapped into something deep inside Nicolas Cage:
It was the first time that I played Ghost Rider. Blaze was easy; I knew he was a man who had been living with a curse for eight years of having his head lit on fire, and the tone that would take. I compared him to a cop, or a paramedic who develops a dark sense of humor to cope with the horrors he has seen. But Blaze has also caused the horrors, so he’s hiding out because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.
Ghost Rider was an entirely new experience, and he got me thinking about something I read in a book called The Way Of Wyrd by Brian Bates, and he also wrote a book called The Way Of The Actor. He put forth the concept that all actors, whether they know it or not, stem from thousands of years ago—pre-Christian times—when they were the medicine men or shamans of the village. And these shamans, who by today’s standards would be considered psychotic, were actually going into flights of the imagination and locating answers to problems within the village. They would use masks or rocks or some sort of magical object that had power to it.
It occurred to me, because I was doing a character as far out of our reference point as the spirit of vengeance, I could use these techniques. I would paint my face with black and white make up to look like a Afro-Caribbean icon called Baron Samedi, or an Afro-New Orleans icon who is also called Baron Saturday. He is a spirit of death but he loves children; he’s very lustful, so he’s a conflict in forces. And I would put black contact lenses in my eyes so that you could see no white and no pupil, so I would look more like a skull or a white shark on attack.
On my costume, my leather jacket, I would sew in ancient, thousands-of-years-old Egyptian relics, and gather bits of tourmaline and onyx and would stuff them in my pockets to gather these energies together and shock my imagination into believing that I was augmented in some way by them, or in contact with ancient ghosts. I would walk on the set looking like this, loaded with all these magical trinkets, and I wouldn’t say a word to my co-stars or crew or directors. I saw the fear in their eyes, and it was like oxygen to a forest fire. I believed I was the Ghost Rider.
OH MY GOD. Nicolas Cage is a total “method” actor—except his “method” is “channeling ancient voodoo spirits” and “sewing mystical totems into his clothing” and “tapping into gnostic nativistic preknowledge” using “ancient shamanic ritual.” HOLY SHIT.
I think I had begun to wonder whether Nic Cage accepts dumb scripts and just “phones it in” for a paycheck, so to speak. No way. This guy is a maniac! Like if you caught him dancing naked in the moonlight and you were like “Hey Nicolas Cage what are you doing,” he’d be all, “I’m researching a part, obviously.”