He partitions mind like no other performer and now, at 54, acquires himself single for the first time in years. He talks about fatherhood, family and trying to deliver genuinely groundbreaking performances

Nicolas Cage is the greatest American actor working today, full stop. Not very long ago, such a claim would have got you tittered out of the chamber. Simply Cage superfans said such things; in the eyes of the rest of the world, well, sure, he could act- he did triumph the 1996 Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, after all- but he was too eccentric, extremely laughably over the top, exactly too damn Cage-y to be taken seriously.

Ever since I realise him in his 1980 s slapsticks- Peggy Sue Got Married, Moonstruck and Raising Arizona- in which he played, respectively, a nasal-voiced teddy boy, an opera-loving baker and a cartoonish ex-con- I have been a Cage superfan. I had never seen anyone act like him before- wildly mannered but ever heartfelt- and there was something about his fearless lurch towards the nonsensical to achieve something unique, and maybe even glorious, that affect me as inspiring. If actors were popping psalms, Cage would be Bohemian Rhapsody. As a shy 10 -year-old, I would perform his extravagant pronunciations and even more grandiose gesticulates from Moonstruck in front of the reflect: ” I ain’t no freaking shrine to justice !” I would scream, lifting my limb to the sky. It felt stimulating. But thanks to the endless schlocky horror movies he makes these days, coupled with all those internet supercuts compiling his notorious “Cage Rage” freak-outs from various movies (” Nicolas Cage’s Cagiest Moments !”), he is too often regarded as, if not exactly a guilty pleasure, then at least an ironic one. And it is hard to argue the genius of a gentleman who crowds his CV with movies such as Season of the Witch and Ghost Rider.

But attitudes have been shifting. Ever since his magnetic accomplishment in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans in 2009, re-evaluations have been written with headlines like Is Nicolas Cage Actually the Most Brilliant Actor of Our Time ?, by reporters presumably too young to remember that Cage long ago confirmed this in movies such as David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. In a 2013 Reddit Ask Me Anything, Ethan Hawke confirmed that he, very, is a Cage superfan:” He’s the only performer since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything new with the prowes of move; he’s successfully taken us away from an preoccupation with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was favourite with the old-fashioned troubadors .”

Cage and I fulfill on a sunny epoch in the restaurant of the Savoy Hotel in London. He is dressed formally in a grey clothing and necktie, but his face is friendly.” What’s with all this SUN? I was hoping for London fog and GLOOM ,” he says in his distinctive, lilting voice. These days Cage lives in” well, the ROMANTIC way to place it would be the Mojave desert, but the CRUDE way of saying it is I live in Las Vegas “. He moved there a decade ago for, he quietly declares, the instead crude reason of Nevada not having any state tax,” which was helpful at the time “.

Cage famously blew the rich he made in 90 s blockbusters The Rock, Face/ Off and Con Air on, among other things, some fabulously eccentric real estate properties obtains various regions of the world, including a palace in Somerset. The castling has since been sold but he still has a cottage near Glastonbury, having been urged to check out the town by someone he describes as” my logic teach “.

” She made there was something very ARTHURIAN about me – why, I don’t know- and I get and I fell in love with the place. Glastonbury town is like walking into a parcel of TAROT placards: on the one back you have very ancient Christianity, on the other side you have gentile notebook supermarkets, and someone’s barking about God in the middle of the street. It’s like an Ingmar BERGMAN movie, and I cherish it ,” he says.

He has two chunky sounds on his paws: a block of Tanzanite from Somerset and a tiger from Vegas,” So I ever have Glastonbury and Las Vegas with me ,” he says, smiling lovingly at this hand.

We are here today to talk about his latest film, Mandy, directed by Panos Cosmatos, and if your impression of Cage these days is of someone who spends his geniu in niche horror movies most people won’t see, well, Mandy will not change your intellect. Cage is incredibly watchable as the devastated lumberjack, Red, who sets out to avenge the death of his lover( Andrea Riseborough) at the mitts of a religion chairman( Linus Roache ). But Adaptation it is not. Does he do these smaller movies because they give him the seat to experiment with his, shall we say, unique style of acting?

” Absolutely. I like to break forms, try different things, and I don’t think studios are comfy with that. But in an separately spirited film, I can do that. Also, if I don’t have somewhere to be done in order to the morning and a job to do, it can be very self-destructive. Then I’m just going to sit and order two bottles of red wine and melt, and I don’t want to be that person, so I have to work ,” he says. After this interview, he says, he has to learn rows for three upcoming films.

Perhaps it is this work ethic that has hindered him so health. Unlike most other actors who have been around for four decades, and despite his honour as a male of extremes, there have never been any substance-abuse gossips or the complaints of burnout.

With
With Cher in Moonstruck, 1987. Photograph: Allstar/ MGM

” I certainly have a work ethic, that I will say. I’m the first to arrive and the last to leave. But also I repute my children are to thank for that. When you’re a leader, you can’t behave like that ,” he says. Cage has two sons: Weston, 27, from an early relationship; and 13 -year-old Kal-El( the call Superman was given as a baby ), from his third union to Alice Kim.

Because of his son’s name, I tell him, there’s an online expedition to realise him the next Superman.” Oh, I imagine my Superman daytimes are long gone ,” he giggles with a little pat of his belly. He would be an stunning rascal in it, I reply. His eyes light up.” Oh, that would be GREAT! I’d make a great Lex Luthor !”

For all its hilariously over-the-top gore, Mandy is really about a man’s grief at the loss of the desire of their own lives, and right before the film started shooting, Cage’s 14 -year marriage to Kim came to a abrupt end.

” It was a shocker for me- I clearly didn’t see it coming, and those feelings had to go somewhere, so they went into the performance ,” he says.

Have he and Kim managed to stay friends?” Oh yes, I was intended to. She was quite young when I married her and I don’t really have any ill will towards what happened. That’s all I’ll say ,” he says, examining genuinely stricken.” And now it’s like, wow, I’m 54 and I’m single again- I didn’t see that coming! It’s pretty gruesome .”

Presumably he can’t really do Tinder.” No, emphatically not. I’m not on social media, but everyone else is so I’m like, well, what do I do ?”

His moves might also need some production. When a female friend was over at his plaza recently, he pictured her Vampire’s Kiss, his too-little-known 80 s fright gem about a person who conceives a one-night stand has turned him into a vampire.

” I think it scared her. She left ,” he says, chortling. It’s not really a great date movie.” No, maybe not !”

It is often said that Cage doesn’t look like a movie star, but he actually does look like lots of movie stars, exactly from different ages: he has the long face and nose of Max Schreck in 1922′ s Nosferatu, the high-pitched forehead of Werner Krauss in 1920′ s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and the wild, defect gazes of Klaus Kinski. These are the very actors Cage always wanted to be like, having grown up watching them with his beloved parent, Augustus Coppola, who stimulated sure his son was sanded in the classics. He is an attempt to bringing the lessons he learned from those movies into his own movies; even the mitt gesticulates from Moonstruck that I used to imitation were a reference to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. That might announce laughably ostentatious, but there is something refreshing about person from the American film industry who doesn’t think film history aims only Frank Capra movies or, a la Tarantino, age-old Jackie Chan or roadhouse films.” It’s true, I’m a throwback ,” Cage nods.

Con
Con Air, 1997. Photograph: Allstar/ TOUCHSTONE

Does he fear examining laughable?

” All I care about is the metamorphosi so I never repute:’ Is this ridiculous ?’ Even though”- he chuckles-” sometimes it is !”

His methods of getting into persona are famed: to prepare for Leaving Las Vegas, he hired the by then permanently drink poet, Tony Dingman, to be his” drinking consultant “.” I belief Mike[ Figgis, the administrator] was a bit:’ What are we doing ?’ Because unexpectedly there was this drunk poet with me all the time ,” he says solemnly.

For Bad Lieutenant, he compulsively snorted saccharine to throw him in the minds of a drug addict.” I speculate I freaked Werner[ Herzog] out a little, which then freaked me out because you really have to have gone way out to freak out Werner ,” he says.

Cage’s various attempts to explain his acting style, applying words such as” German expressionist”,” western kabuki” and, my personal favourite,” nouveau shamanic”, haven’t done much to dispel the impres he is, at the very least, a bit bananas. But today he talks about it with relative straightforwardness.

” I can do photorealism, but I wanted to let it be known that playing can break forms and hark back to something else. I’m a big fan of aesthetic synchronicity, “when youre doing” one species in another, like Munch’s Scream in Ghostrider ,” he says, gathering the aforementioned face.” Not natural but honest , not crazy for craziness’s purpose .”

But it must be frustrating to aim for Munch and Kinski, merely to be reduced to internet supercuts about Cage Rage.” It leads both courses.[ The internet supercuts] obstructed me relevant to a generation that is entirely about YouTube. On the other hand, these larger-than-life facial expressions are made into something announced memes ,” he says, wheeling the word ” memes” around in his opening disdainfully.” But I don’t have any umbrage about it. I’m going to give it my all every time, and I reckon people know that now ,” he says.

They didn’t at the beginning though, so how on earth do he reassure his early heads to let him try things that seem so, well, bizarre?

” I was lucky. I had people who get along with me for the razz and, indeed, sculpted it with me ,” he says. This is possibly not how the film-makers themselves find it: the Coen brothers were so unsure about him, they made him audition for Raising Arizona 20 hours, and he was nearly shot from Moonstruck when he initially insisted on bringing in Jean Cocteau citations. As for Peggy Sue Got Married, he acknowledges:” I was lucky my uncle was targeting it ,” his uncle being Francis Ford Coppola.

In
In Raising Arizona with Holly Hunter, 1987. Photograph: Allstar/ 20 TH CENTURY FOX

” But I consider Kathleen[ Turner, his Peggy Sue co-star] was amused. I think we were a little bit in love with one another, to be entirely honest ,” he says.( Turner, I strongly suspect, would disagree with this take. In a recent interrogation, she was asked about working with Cage:” He is difficult on determine. The practice I realise it, yeah, he WAS that asshole .”)

Nicolas Coppola grew up in Long Beach, California, the son of Francis Ford Coppola’s brother, and from an early age, he idolised his uncle.

” I was in awe of him and wanted his approval. I enjoyed the practice he lived their own lives, ever listening to the Beatles and playing guitar ,” he says.

But when Cage started acting as a adolescent, he swiftly realised he would have to change his surname to avoid charges of nepotism.

” Certain actors, whose appoints I won’t mention, would stand outside my trailer and say:’ I affection the smell of Nicolas in the morning !’ I reckoned, I don’t need this. So I reformed it and I was free .”

Whereas he changed his surname to get distance from his family, his then close friend Charlie Sheen- digest Carlos Estevez- changed his surname to his father Martin Sheen’s stage name. Didn’t he think that was weird?

” I did “ve been thinking about” that, yeah. That is kind of amazing, isn’t it? Charlie is a great actor- he stole the whole of Ferris Bueller in a two-minute scene. He is somebody I always admired but I thought it fascinating that he took his father’s surname and his brother Emilio lodge with Estevez. Well, it certainly worked for Charlie !”

Two of Cage’s three ex-wives too come from far-famed families: Patricia Arquette, with whom he co-starred in Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, and Lisa Marie Presley.

” I see I felt a acquaintance there, an understanding of the pressure of having a far-famed refer. One of the things Lisa adoration about me was that I changed my identified- she thought that was the coolest thing. But I don’t really weigh those two marriages, I don’t think they belong on my record. The real matrimony for me was the 14 years I had with Alice and the child we have together ,” he says.

Did Presley not is strange that, before they married, Cage had dressed as her father onscreen twice, in Wild at Heart and Honeymoon in Vegas?

” Oh no, I anticipate Lisa really dug it! She liked Wild at Heart so much that she wanted to do a sequel. Maybe one day .” Cage and Presley are still friends, but he and Arquette haven’t talked” in a long time “. I ask if he visualizes maybe the emotional extremes he goes to in his epoch undertaking make it hard to have a relationship.

With
With Laura Dern in Wild at Heart, 1990. Photograph: Allstar/ POLYGRAM/ Sportsphoto Ltd ./ Allstar

” Maybe. I hadn’t really was just thinking about it like that. But it’s true, you have to shut it off when you go home and I have a life- well, had a life …” He still has a life, I say.” Well, I represented when I was married, coming home to that at night. But, yes, maybe it’s hard for people to be around .”

It can’t have been easy turning off Charlie Kaufman every night, I say, referring to his act as the neurotic, sexually forestalled screenwriter in Adaptation.

” No! God! And I was married to Lisa then …” he trails off again.

Cage’s busines has become from 80 s slapsticks to 90 s action movies to 21 st-century horror, with oddball classics like Wild at Heart and Bad Lieutenant scattered among other issues. Yet what has been consistent is that Cage himself has been seen as one of Hollywood’s last-place screwballs. And hitherto in person he comes across as surprisingly uneccentric. In knowledge he seems-” Boring, right ?” No!” No, I truly am ,” he says, and he seems so uneasy again that I want to hug him.

Our time is almost up and as we prepare to leave, I sounds myself saying:” I used to perform one of your orations from Moonstruck when I was a little girl .”

” Well, I would like to see that !” he says, unexpectedly smiling again, reclining back in his chair.

What , now? “Yes!”

Two servers are poising. So is the movie PR. People from the tables next to us are starting to stare.

” Go on ,” he says, rippling my self-consciousness away like it was a mere fruitfly. And so, amassing together all the lessons I’ve learned from Cage over its first year, I do it.

” I ain’t no freaking monument to justice !” I shout in the middle of the Savoy hotel, and I go on to perform the whole damn speech. Halfway through, he connects in with me.

” You wreaked it BACK to me! That was FANTASTIC !” he says, acclaiming when we finally finish.

I stammer confessions for my ghastly move, but he shakes his head.” No, that was GREAT. You truly Dedicated. Yes !”

Mandy is secreted on 12 October

* This article was corrected on 1 October 2018. Kal-El is the identify Superman was given as a child , not countries around the world where he was born, as originally stated.

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