As filmmaker David Gordon Green observes, “Everyone has a favorite Nicolas Cage film, everyone has a least favorite Nicolas Cage film.” That's because Cage's filmography runs the gamut from the Oscar-winning to the epitome of schlock. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, he's good in good movies and essential in bad ones.
No matter what kind of film he's in, Cage tends to go whole hog - committing to characters so thoroughly that audiences can't look away. This has led to some excellent over-the-top performances in otherwise forgettable films.
But what is Cage like as a person? Is he as eccentric as his reputation makes him out to be? As the following list attests, his personality is as divisive as his films. Vote up the best Nicolas Cage stories, as told by those who actually worked with him.
- Photo: The Sorcerer's Apprentice / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Jay Baruchel starred with Nicolas Cage in 2010's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. He recalled the experience when he appeared on an episode of Conan, telling host Conan O'Brien that while Cage is "deeply humble" and "polite," he's not without his eccentricities. Baruchel described his co-star as "an incredibly bespoke individual."
For instance, one day Cage explained a dream he had to Baruchel, and then included a visual aid. As Baruchel remembers:
[O]nce I was like, "How was your night?"
And he was like, "I had this dream; there was a shrimp man! He had a human body and a shrimp head! He was just pointing at me saying, 'SHRIMP YOU F*CK. SHRIMP YOU F*CK!' And I drew it to show you!"
And like, 20 minutes later, his assistant, this lovely Englishman, came over like, "Mr. Cage wanted you to see this." And it’s just a drawing of a shrimp guy, with a shrimp head and a human body.
- Photo: The Green Hornet / Sony Pictures Releasing21,767 VOTES
Actor Seth Rogen has never appeared with Cage in a film, but the two briefly worked together during the development of 2011's The Green Hornet. According to Rogen, Cage wanted to play the film's villain as a "white Bahamian" who would perform a "voodoo ritual" on Rogen's hero.
The idea of Cage adopting a Jamaican accent made Rogen uncomfortable, but he told him they could discuss it further at the home of Sony chairperson Amy Pascal. Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg thought it was unlikely that Cage would try to do the accent at Pascal's house. However, according to Rogen:
We show up at the house and within 60 seconds we were all seated in the living room as he stood in front of us reciting a monologue in a Jamaican accent. We were all just like, what's happening? A monologue, I should add, that was not in the script - nor did it have anything to do with the script. At which point I was like, I don't think he's read the script! There was no indication he had any idea what film we were trying to make, other than it was called The Green Hornet and there was a villain in it.
When the character failed to make the right impression, Rogen says Cage left the house.
The relationship between Rogen and Cage soured even further after the release of 2012's Spring Breakers, starring Rogen's friend and frequent co-star James Franco. Years later, when Rogen was in talks to produce another film with Cage, Cage demanded to have a meeting with him. Rogen recalls Cage asking:
"Did you tell James [Franco] about that meeting we had? The Jamaican meeting?"
We were like, "No, I don't know."
He was like, "Because that guy in Spring Breakers, was that based on the character I did for you guys?" I was like, no, absolutely not, I think it was actually based on a Florida rapper. He very clearly didn't believe me...
Allegedly, Cage remains convinced that Franco stole his white Bahamian character. And this is why Rogen says Cage does not like him.
- Photo: Con Air / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution32,020 VOTES
Cage's Stand-In Says He Was Always 100% Prepared
Marco Kyris was Cage's stand-in from 1994 to 2004, working with him on 20 films in total. Kyris says that, unlike most stand-ins, he enjoyed a fair amount of prestige. “That is because Cage was a super star, and not just a Hollywood actor," he told Neos Kosmos. "His family are the Coppolas. The biggest family dynasty in show biz."
He always came on set 100% prepared, knew his lines, his marks, his camera angles... He was easily a one-take kinda guy, but that's always up to the director or other technical difficulties. He nailed it each and every time first take, he could easily switch from character to real person once the director called cut.
My biggest takeaway is the amount of dedication and discipline he had to his craft, unlike anyone I'd ever seen on a film set.
- Photo: Peggy Sue Got Married / TriStar Pictures41,274 VOTES
Kathleen Turner starred alongside Cage in 1986's Peggy Sue Got Married. In the film, Cage adopts a high-pitched voice and wears false teeth, and Turner has not been shy about her distaste for these acting choices - nor his behavior on set. She tells W Magazine:
It was tough to not say, "Cut it out." But it wasn’t my job to say to another actor what he should or shouldn’t do. So I went to [director] Francis [Ford Coppola]. I asked him, "You approved this choice?" It was very touchy.
Turner went further in her criticism, calling Cage an "a-hole."
This interview occurred some years after Cage successfully sued Turner for defamation. She'd written in her 2008 autobiography that Cage was "arrested twice for drunk-driving," as well as snatching a dog, while making Peggy Sue. When Cage won his libel suit, Turner not only had to pay for his legal fees, but also donate to a charity and issue him an apology.
- Photo: Joe / Roadside Attractions51,072 VOTES
Cage starred in David Gordon Green's 2013 drama Joe, but the filmmaker says the two struck up a friendship even before shooting began. Green told Indiewire that, before he'd ever met Cage, he wrote him a letter asking him to be in Joe: "I want Robert Mitchum for this role, but he died so will you please help me out."
The letter made an impression on Cage, who not only called Green back, but soon flew to Austin, TX, to hang out with the director and do location shooting on his film Prince Avalanche - which Cage wasn't even in. Later, one month before filming officially began on Joe, Cage returned to Austin to hang out with the crew and "get a feel for the locale."
Green praised Cage's lack of pretense, saying he wasn't concerned with having an actor's luxuries. As Indiewire writes:
"He literally wasn’t on the tech scout where we know where we’re shooting he was just wandering around with us looking for where we might shoot,” Green laughed in disbelief. He would find Cage sometimes to the side, “on the bridge saying lines from the script and you’d see Joe growing his beard out, so it was a real awesome month of getting to know everyone and becoming involved in the casting. It’s just such a rare treat for an actor to be willing to go to those lengths for a role.”
- Photo: Army of One / Dimension Films6748 VOTES
Wendi McLendon-Covey Doesn't Believe She's Met The Real Cage
Wendi McLendon-Covey co-starred in Army of One with Cage, in which Cage plays Gary Faulkner - an eccentric real-life person who tried to hunt down Osama bin Laden.
When asked what it was like to work with Cage, McLendon-Covey says she doesn't really know, as she mostly interacted with him while he was in character. She told Business Insider:
[B]y the time I had worked with [Cage] he had been living in this character for months. So our scenes were the very last [to film]... And I didn't meet him until, like, five minutes before we started shooting. So I can't say that I've met Nicolas Cage. [Laughs] I only know him as Gary.
The actor says Cage didn't break character, even between takes - though he did ease up on the voice when they talked about their shared home of Long Beach, CA:
Well, we did speak a little bit between shots and I found out that as a kid he grew up very close to where I live now in Long Beach. Like, not even a mile away. I know exactly the street he mentioned. So that was a trip for me.