To many film fans, Nicolas Cage is a strange concoction. A figure of hilariously over-the-top acting and memeification when it comes to his rather peculiar career choices. But life was not always this way with Nicolas Kim Coppola.
Before entering the world of acting, Cage decided to dissociate himself away from the connotations that would go along with being known as a ‘Coppola’. In a world where Sofia is now fully adorning of the name in her directorial career, it is peculiar to imagine an alternative reality where there is another more eccentric Coppola on the scene.
His latest role is in York Shackleton‘s 211 as a cop nearing retirement, given the task of taking a troubled high school teen on a police ride along. Nothing could go wrong – right? In true action thriller fashion they run into a huge bank heist and in the confusion the young teen goes missing. It’s exactly the sort of leading role Cage excels at, and you’ll be able to see for yourself as 211 is out to download now and released on DVD on the 23rd of July.
In celebration of his latest film, 211, we take a look back at some Cage performances that are entirely in a world of their own.
Starring alongside the ever fabulous Cher, soon to be seen in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cage features in the Oscar winning film as her love interest, bakery Ronny Cammareri. Adorning an awfully lot of facial and bodily hair, thus making him referred to as a wolf in the film, the actor in preparation for the role sought to imitate Jean Marais in 1946’s Beauty and the Beast. Quoted as stating “And so I was talking like that in the movie and I got a call from the director, Norman Jewison, and he said, ‘Nicolas, the dailies aren’t working.’ And then I started hearing names of other actors and I thought I was going to get fired. I had to quickly drop the Jean Marais.”
Solidifying his status as a rather peculiar performer thanks to stressing the lines ‘WHAT IS LIFE?’’upon his introductory scene, Moonstruck underlines how Cage can take a character and significantly extrapolate away from its origins in the screenplay. In part thanks to the mise-en-scene of a prosthetic wooden hand, Cage will forever be immortalized by lifting his character’s hand in the air and screaming ‘’I LOST MY HAND’’ in a somewhat comical fashion.
2. Rumble Fish
Though Rumble Fish is undoubtedly Matt Dillon’s star vehicle, along with that of the scene stealing Mickey Rourke, Cage makes one of his earliest performances in Francis Ford Coppola personal favourite film of his. Part of Rusty James’ gang, Smokey (Cage) is suave in comparison to the brash Rusty and his bullish attitude. Nonetheless, this distinction still predicates his acting style, constantly merging an alternative from of acting with the director’s initial vision.
Strangely reflecting qualities seen in Moonstruck, the two performances on the surface seem diametrically opposed. Yet, beneath the surface of both, Cage’s character eventually gets the girl: Cher in one instance and Diane Lane’s Patty in the other. Amidst the operatic opening fight, Cage shouts akin to Ronny Cammareri in his Brooklyn bakery. Behind a cool veneer that same electric Cage still remains.
3. Dog Eat Dog
Unlike Schrader’s latest feature First Reformed, this is the complete antithesis to previous introspective approaches given by the director-writer. Violent, pulpy and truly bizarre, Willem Dafoe and Cage play ex-convicts who struggle attempting to fit back into society after doing time for a job that went south years before.
Though Dafoe’s outlandishly sinister performance as ‘Mad Dog’ takes centre stage, Cage survives the violence to reward the audience with a truly absurd impersonation of Humphrey Bogart in the back of a car, whilst holding its drivers at gunpoint. Though this all sounds fantastical, I assure you Schrader and Cage truly worked upon a scene such as this, regardless of the former’s status as a master of cinema.
4. The Wicker Man
Obligatory in any Nicolas Cage list, his outlandish deliverance of ‘‘NOT THE BEES’’ in the remake of the folk horror classic The Wicker Man has become the internet’s purest representation of the actor. Still, behind this one scene, it is a film littered with even more brash scenes as Edward Malus roams around the island punching numerous women in the face to comical effect thanks to the awful sound design; holding a woman at gunpoint to hand over her bike, whilst running into a room just to tell children to remove their masks.
All in all, Cage’s performance here is a significant juxtaposition to Edward Woodward’s quiet spiritual angst in the original. A reflection of his overt style of acting, thankfully by the end of the film’s running time it was Cage’s time to keep his appointment with the Wicker Man.
5. National Treasure
A somewhat peculiar pick given that the first film grossed $173,008,894 worldwide, the leading man Cage becomes in these two films still shows that regardless of a mainstream family adventure flick, he is prone to a spontaneous moment of farce. In specific, during National Treasure 2, his wannabe Indiana Jones character, Benjamin Franklin Gates, has to cause a raucous to then allow Diane Kruger’s Abigail Chase. After screaming at the top of his lungs, Gates hence slides down a set of stairs railings. Upon reaching the bottom, he is grabbed by a British security guard, the character then replying in a intimating accent.
In this small moment during a Walt Disney funded film, the lines between actor and performance are strangely blurred in Cage badly in imitating a British accent. Acutely aware that cliche phrases of Britain are badly being used, as in the lines ‘’Just a nip. Popped down to the pub for a pint. Bit of all right. Going to arrest a man for that? Going to detain a blighter for enjoying his whiskey?’’ causes comedy on two levels; self-referential and imitative.