It’s perhaps unfair to label actor Nicolas Cage as an oddball merely based on his frantic on-screen performances. Yes, for the 1988 film Vampire’s Kiss, he ate a live cockroach. It’s also true that for 2018’s Mom and Dad, he improvised breaking a billiard table with a sledgehammer while singing “The Hokey Pokey,” and that for 1986’s Peggy Sue Got Married, his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, threatened to dismiss him because he insisted on speaking in an oddly high-pitched voice.
None of this suggests anything other than a strong commitment to his craft. The further details of the 54-year-old Cage’s adventurous life have others wondering if he’s out of his mind. Consider the following samples from his past and make your own decision.
August Coppola, a literature professor, and Joy Vogelsang, a dancer, and choreographer raised Cage in Long Beach, California. He grew up in a Catholic household. His father had Italian ancestry, while his mother had German and Polish origin.
He is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, the cousin of directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola, film producer Gian-Carlo Coppola, and actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman, all of whom he met through his father. We can see where Nicholas Cage’s acting energy came from.
He went to Beverly Hills High School, which has a long history of producing performers. Since he was a child, he wanted to be an actor and attended UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. In a school production of Golden Boy, he had his first non-cinematic acting experience.
He began acting because he “wanted to be James Dean,” he claimed. “I watched him in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. Nothing, not a rock tune, not a classical piece of music, had the same effect on me as Dean had in Eden. It completely blew my head. That’s what I want to do,” he said.
He tried to persuade his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, to grant him a film test when he was fifteen years old, promising him, “I’ll show you acting.” “Silence in the car” was the reaction to his outburst. By this point of his career, Coppola had previously directed Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Robert De Niro.
As Coppola’s nephew, he changed his name to Nicolas Cage early in his career to preventing any type of favoritism bestowed on relatives and friends. He was inspired in part by the Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage.
Cage has been nominated for an Academy Award twice, winning the first time for his portrayal of a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. In Adaptation, he received another nomination for portraying real-life playwright Charlie Kaufman and Kaufman’s fictional twin, Donald.
Despite these accomplishments, most of his lesser-known films have underperformed compared to his major action/adventure roles at the box office. 8mm (1999), a suspense thriller, is regarded as a cult classic. For the character of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in the 2001 film, he learned to play the mandolin from the ground up.
Despite worldwide releases and positive reviews for his performances, two films he starred in, Lord of War and The Weatherman, failed to find a significant audience in 2005. The Wicker Man remake from 2006 received dismal reviews and could not recoup its $40 million budget.
Based on the Marvel Comics character, the critically panned Ghost Rider (2007) performed better, grossing more than $45 million in its first weekend and more than $208 million worldwide through March 25, 2007. In 2007, he also starred in Next, a film that echoed Cage’s notion of a look into an alternate reality.
The action/adventure genre accounted for the majority of Cage’s box office success. In National Wealth, his second highest-grossing picture to date, he plays an eccentric historian who embarks on a perilous quest to discover a treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Other action films starring Cage include The Rock, in which he plays a teenage FBI chemical weapons expert who infiltrates Alcatraz Island in the hopes of neutralizing a terrorist threat, Face/Off, in which he plays both a hero and a villain, and World Trade Center, directed by Oliver Stone.
Cage was observed researching for the lead role in The Wrestler Backstage at a Ring of Honor wrestling match in New York City. On the other hand, Cage backed out of the film shortly after because he thought he didn’t have enough time to prepare for the role, and director Darren Aronofsky selected Mickey Rourke to play the lead.
Rourke would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. “Nic was a complete gentleman, and he realized that my heart was with Mickey, and he stepped aside,” Aronofsky stated in an interview about Cage’s decision to quit the film.
Cage starred in Alex Proyas’ science fiction thriller Knowing, which was released in 2009. He plays an MIT professor who investigates the contents of a time capsule discovered at his son’s primary school in the film.
Surprising prophecies contained inside the capsule have already come true, leading him to assume that the world will end at the end of the week and that he and his kid are somehow engaged in the devastation. Although the film received mostly unfavorable reviews, it was a box office success on its first weekend.
Also, in 2009, Cage starred in the film, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. He portrayed a corrupt police officer with gambling, drug, and alcohol addictions. The film was very well received by critics, holding a rating of 87% positive reviews on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes.
“Herzog has discovered his ideal interpreter, a performer whose truth hides deep in the artifice of acting: ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage, at his greatest,” wrote Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune of Cage’s performance. Cage reunited with Eva Mendes, who played his love interest in Ghost Rider, in this flick.
Season of the Witch, in which he portrayed a 14th-century knight bringing a girl accused of spreading the Black Plague to a convent, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, in which he played the sorcerer, were both films in which Cage starred.
Cage returned to the character of Ghost Rider in the 2012 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. In the animated feature The Croods, released in 2013, he voiced Grug Crood. The Croods garnered favorable critical reviews and was a box office hit, collecting $585 million on a $135 million budget.
In the same year, he played as the main character in Scott Walker’s directorial debut, The Frozen Ground, a thriller crime drama film based on the murders of real-life Alaskan serial murderer Robert Hansen. The film is cliched, as are a most serial killer and police procedural films, but the acting is strong, which helps to ground the film.
The film follows Cage’s character, an Alaskan State Trooper, as he attempts to catch Hansen by teaming up with a young woman who has fled Hansen’s grasp. Although Cage’s performance was praised as a highlight and good, the picture got mixed reviews.
In 2013, he also acted in Joe, a David Gordon Green-directed and co-produced independent criminal thriller film based on Larry Brown’s 1991 novel of the same name. In this film, Nicolas Cage plays a troubled guy who employs a 15-year-old child and protects him from his abusive father.
The film had its world premiere at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, followed by a showing at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013. It was a movie office disappointment, generating only $2.36 million on a $4 million budget, but it gained critical accolades, with Cage’s acting and Green’s direction receiving plaudits.
Dog Eat Dog, Cage’s second collaboration with Paul Schrader, paired him with Willem Dafoe as ex-convicts hired to abduct a baby in 2016. At the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the film premiered as the final entry for the Directors’ Fortnight competition.
“It’s the perfect filmmaker for the right project, and the result is Schrader’s best for years: a lairy, nasty, delectable crime thriller built on black-comic pandemonium,” the Guardian wrote. It is a rare Cleveland picture that appears to have been shot on the cheap but delivers what it requires to the screen with verve and wit.”
Mom and Dad, a horror comedy film directed by Brian Taylor and starring Cage, Selma Blair, and Anne Winters, premiered in the Midnight Madness section of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. On January 19, 2018, it was released in theaters.
Critics praised the film, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes describing his performance as “out-of-this-world.” Director John Waters praised the film, considering it one of the best films of the year and ranking it fourth on his personal top ten list. This is just remarkable.
Cage voiced Superman in the animated film Teen Titans Go To the Movies later that year. In the 1990s, he was supposed to play Superman in Tim Burton’s canceled Superman film, Superman Lives. In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, he also voiced Peter Parker / Spider-Man Noir (2018).
Cage modeled his character, a gloomy and monochromatic parallel version of Peter Parker from a 1930s reality, on Humphrey Bogart’s films, notably the voices of performers like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson from that era.
Cage signed on to play the lead role in Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, based on the short story “The Color Out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft, in December 2018. This was Stanley’s first feature picture since being fired from Dr. Moreau’s Island (1996).
Out of Space aired on September 7, 2019, and Cage received the Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative Award for his role. The film is also unsettling, and the creature effects are fantastic. Nicholas Cage was an excellent pick for the part. This film amplifies the craziness of the short narrative.
In November 2019, Cage starred alongside Pedro Pascal and Tiffany Haddish in the comedy-drama The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which he played a fictionalized version of himself. In an eight-episode Tiger King series, Cage will play Joe Exotic.
DreamWorks Animation announced a sequel to The Croods in April 2013. Nicolas Cage would reprise his role as Grug from the previous film in the sequel, it was announced in September 2013. On November 25, 2020, The Croods: A New Age was released in theaters across the United States.
Sonny, a low-budget drama starring James Franco as a male prostitute whose mother (Brenda Blethyn) works as his pimp, was Cage’s directorial debut in 2002. Cage played a minor role in the film, which earned mixed reviews and only a limited release in theaters.
Cage’s producing credits include Saturn Films’ first film, Shadow of the Vampire. Cage revealed during the Bahamas International Film Festival in early December 2006 that he would be discontinuing his acting career to pursue other hobbies. Cage serves as executive producer on the Sci-Fi Channel’s The Dresden Files.
Cage stated in February 2011 that he realized he had evolved his own acting approach, which he called “Nouveau Shamanic,” at a certain point in his career. “At some point, I’ll have to write a book” about it, he said. Cage later claimed that the novel was the source of inspiration for the name.
Brian Bates read The Way of the Actor, in which he learned about the parallels between ancient shamans and thespians. In other interviews, cage has described his acting approach as “German Expressionism” or “Western kabuki”.
Cage has defended his excessive method of acting on several occasions. For Birdy, it was necessary to feel his character’s agony physically. Cage extracted two teeth without the use of an anesthetic. He also spent five weeks with his face bandaged, experiencing harsh reactions from many people because of his appearance.
His skin was inflamed due to acne and ingrowing hairs after he removed the bandages. “Any casual spectator can see that Cage is amusing, charismatic, and enormously extravagant,” writes Luke Buckmaster of The Guardian. Part of it can be attributed to Cage’s family’s “well-cultured” heritage.
According to Buckmaster, the actor “is clearly drawn to weird characters and is known for his outlandish and unbalanced portrayal of them. He possesses the gravitas of a starring man and the idiosyncrasies of a supporting player.”
Cage is “the only actor since Marlon Brando who’s actually done anything new with the art,” according to actor Ethan Hawke, who credits him with leading moviegoers “away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours.”
Cage began dating actress Christina Fulton in 1988, and they had a son, Weston Coppola Cage, together. Weston was a member of two black metal bands and played a helicopter mechanic in his father’s film Lord of War. Cage has two grandkids through Weston, who were born in 2014 and 2016.
Cage has married five times throughout his life. Patricia Arquette, his first wife, was an actress (married in April 1995, divorce finalized in 2001). Cage married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, in his second marriage. Cage is an Elvis Presley devotee and based his performance in Wild at Heart on the singer.
Cage grew up in a Catholic home, but he avoids discussing religion in public and refuses to answer religious-related issues in interviews. “Any of my personal ideas or opinions carries the risk of impinging on your own relationship with the movie,” Cage said when asked if the film, Knowing, was a religion-themed picture or not.
“Movies, in my opinion, are best kept ambiguous, with more questions than solutions. I’m not one for preaching. So [whatever you receive] out of the film [is] far more intriguing than [anything] I could ever provide,” states Cage.
Cage has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s most philanthropic actors. He gave Amnesty International $2 million to help some of the 300,000 youngsters forced to fight in conflicts worldwide by providing rehabilitation centers, medical care, and psychiatric and reintegration programs.
He has also donated $1 million to Hurricane Katrina victims. He was the first artist to promote ArtWorks, a program that engages artists in raising awareness of basic workplace rights such as freedom from slavery and child labor.
Cage was also honored by the United Nations with a Humanitarian Award for his efforts, and he was named as a UN Ambassador for Global Justice in 2009 and again in 2013. He truly deserved an accolade for his generous heart, tenacity, and outstanding work throughout the years.
He spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness about international arms control around the film Lord of War. He backed “Heal the Bay,” the United Negro College Fund, and the Royal United Hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal to create intensive care units for babies.
According to Forbes, Nicolas Cage was previously one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, earning $40 million in 2009, despite failing to make the Top 10 List in 2014. Cage and Kim lived in a Malibu mansion until 2005 when they sold it for $10 million.
He purchased a home on Paradise Island, Bahamas, in 2004. He bought a 40-acre island in the Exuma archipelago, 85 miles southeast of Nassau and near another identical island, in May 2006. He purchased the ancient castle Schloss Neidstein in Germany’s Oberpfalz area in 2006 and sold it for $2.5 million in 2009.
According to Cage, he possessed the “Most Haunted House in America,” which is located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The house, dubbed “The LaLaurie House” after its former owner Delphine LaLaurie, was foreclosed and sold at auction on November 12, 2009, for a total of $5.5 million, along with another New Orleans property, in the wake of Cage’s financial woes.
Despite an initial bid of $10.4 million, significantly less than the $35 million Cage had sought to sell it for his Bel Air mansion, which had six loans totaling $18 million on it and failed to sell at an April 2010 foreclosure auction.
On April 15, 2011, Cage was arrested in New Orleans’ French Quarter district for domestic violence, battery, disturbing the peace, and public intoxication. Onlookers summoned a cop after Cage allegedly grabbed his wife’s upper arm while looking to be under the influence of drink.
Cage was kept in police custody until Duane “Dog” Chapman posted an $11,000 bond. On May 31, 2011, he was ordered to appear in court. On May 5, 2011, the New Orleans District Attorney announced that Cage’s charges had been dropped.
In 2011, while promoting his home invasion film Trespass, Cage revealed to reporters that he had been a break-in victim at his Orange County house. He claimed, “When I opened my eyes, there was a naked man in my leather jacket eating a Fudgsicle in front of my bed.”
It may sound amusing, but it was terrifying.” Cage claimed he conversed with the man until the cops arrived. He couldn’t imagine or comprehend what had prompted the intruder’s actions. Could that have been a common occurrence that people see all the time, or had he just had a bad day?
A comic book fan, Cage bought a copy of Action Comics, the highly sought-after 1939 issue that introduced Superman and established the superhero genre in the twentieth century. That comic book was stolen from Cage’s home in January 2000, along with many other valuable titles, in a case that stayed cold for 11 years before the book turned up in a San Fernando Valley storage locker.
The owner of the locker claimed he bought it without knowing what was inside. The comic was returned to Cage after a police inquiry, and he sold it for a then-record $2.1 million later that year. Cage referred to the comic’s return after a decade as “divine destiny.”
In 2011, when promoting Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, actor Idris Elba recounted an incident on set in Romania that epitomized Cage’s dedication to his craft. When Elba noticed Cage was fatigued one day, he questioned if he had gotten any rest. Cage answered, “Yeah, guy, I went up to Dracula’s castle, the ruins up in the mountains, and I stayed the night.”
“It was quite terrifying up there, and I just had to harness the energy.” Cage was most likely referring to Bran Castle in Transylvania, which may have inspired Dracula’s home in Bram Stoker’s original novel.
Cage had a significant talk show anecdote when he appeared as a guest on David Letterman’s Late Show in 2010. He added that he had a cat named Lewis earlier in his career, who liked to eat Cage’s hoard of magic mushrooms.
Finally, Cage realized that he, too, needed some. “I remember lying in my bed for hours, and Lewis was on the desk across from the bed, staring at each other… not moving,” he said. “However, he would stare at me, and I knew he was my brother.”
Cage fans in Japan were ecstatic to find the actor’s face emblazoned on containers of a crispy maize snack called Deluxe Umaibou in October 2017.
While it would be wonderful to believe Cage was paid for his seeming endorsement of the dish, according to a representative for the actor, he had not granted his authorization for his face to appear on the wrapper—the item was intended to promote Cage’s film, Army of One, in a few cinemas, but no one had sought for his permission. FilmNation, the film’s foreign distributor, apologized for the oversight.
Nicolas’ longest marriage was to Alice Kim, a former waitress whom he met in 2004 at a restaurant where she was working when she was only 19 years old. The couple married two months later at a private ranch in northern California, despite their 20-year age difference.
Kim gave birth to the couple’s sole child, son Kal-El, a year after their wedding. Nicolas has a son named Weston, whom he shares with Christina Fulton. The couple split up in January 2016, and their divorce was finalized later that year. In an interview with The Guardian in 2018, he described their breakup as “a stunner for me—I definitely didn’t see it coming.”