He divides ruling like no other actor and now, at 54, hears 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 wider world, well, sure, he could act- he did acquire the 1996 Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, after all- but he was too eccentric, more laughably over the top, exactly too damn Cage-y to be taken seriously.
Ever since I experienced 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 stupid to achieve something unique, and maybe even splendid, that struck me as inspiring. If actors were popping chants, Cage would be Bohemian Rhapsody. As a shy 10 -year-old, I would practise his extravagant speeches and even more grandiose gestures from Moonstruck in front of the mirror: ” I ain’t no freaking monument to right !” I would scream, filching my limb to the sky. It felt exciting. But thanks to the endless schlocky horror movies he makes these days, coupled with all those internet supercuts gathering 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 sarcastic one. And it is hard to argue the genius of a person who replenishes 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 correspondents probably 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, extremely, is a Cage superfan:” He’s the only actor since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything brand-new with the artistry of act; he’s successfully taken us away from an preoccupation with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of playing that I imagine was favourite with the age-old troubadors .”
Cage and I congregate on a sunny epoch in the restaurants sector of the Savoy Hotel in London. He is garmented formally in a gray-headed dres and affiliation, 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 expression. These eras Cage lives in” well, the ROMANTIC way to introduce 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 softly declares, the preferably crude reason of Nevada not having any state tax,” which was helpful at the time “.
Cage famously blew the fate he made in 90 s blockbusters The Rock, Face/ Off and Con Air on, among other things, some fabulously eccentric real estate properties buys around the world, including a castle in Somerset. The castle 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 ideology schoolteacher “.
” She thought there was something exceedingly ARTHURIAN about me – why, I don’t know- and I ran and I fell in love with the place. Glastonbury town is like walking into a parcel of TAROT placards: on the one surface you have very ancient Christianity, on the other side you have gentile work storages, and someone’s barking about God in the middle of the street. It’s like an Ingmar BERGMAN movie, and I affection it ,” he says.
He has two chunky resounds on his fingers: a pulley-block of Tanzanite from Somerset and a beast from Vegas,” So I ever have Glastonbury and Las Vegas with me ,” he says, smiling fondly 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 flair in niche repugnance movies most people won’t see, well, Mandy will not change your memory. Cage is incredibly watchable as the devastated lumberjack, Red, who sets out to retaliate the death of his lover( Andrea Riseborough) at the hands of a sect governor( Linus Roache ). But Adaptation it is not. Does he do these smaller movies because they give him the opening to experiment with his, shall we say, unique mode of behaving?
” Absolutely. I like to break forms, try different things, and I don’t think studios are comfy with that. But in an independently spirited movie, I can do that. Also, if I don’t have somewhere to go in the morning and a job well done, 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 lines for three upcoming films.
Perhaps it is this work ethic that has saved him so health. Unlike most other actors who have been around for four decades, and despite his honour as a soldier of extremes, there have never been any substance-abuse scandals or allegations of burnout.