Nicolas Cage has a rare combination of gifts amongst Hollywood stars. He's simultaneously a wonderful actor (consider Cage's award-winning performances) and, clearly, a totally crazy person. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Because it means that, when you're watching a Nicolas Cage performance, he's expertly portraying a character while also showing us the most insane possible incarnation of that character.
So Honeymoon in Vegas isn't just about some poor schmo whose new bride gets stolen away by a scheming professional gambler. It's about that same set-up happening to a nutcase whose response is to run around Hawaii eloquently swearing at strangers. Face/Off could have been a story about a government agent who trades identities with a mercenary in order to foil a terrorist attack. Instead, it's about John Travolta assuming the identity of a drug-addled, oversexed bug-eyed lunatic. You see where I'm going with this.
Perhaps this rare combination is what makes Cage such a compelling presence on screen, and why so many different filmmakers over the years have been tempted to cast him as larger-than-life on-screen characters.
Cage has not only completed dozens of films in which he plays over-the-top heroes and villains, he's also been considered for dozens of roles that, for whatever reason, he never got a chance to realize. Sometimes, the movies got made with other actors. On occasion, the films simply died in turnaround or had wildly different visions realized years later by other filmmakers.
Still, looking over the list, you can't help but wonder... "What if that guy had been played by Nicolas Cage?" And then feel a twinge, knowing that you've missed out...