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.

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 thoughts 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 refer Superman was given as a newborn ), from his third marriage to Alice Kim.

Because of his son’s name, I tell him, there’s an online campaign to constitute him the next Superman.” Oh, I reckon my Superman periods are long gone ,” he chuckles with a little pat of his belly. He would be an astounding scoundrel 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 affection of his life, 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 obviously didn’t see it coming, and those believes had to go somewhere, so they went into the performance ,” he says.

Have he and Kim managed to stay pals?” Oh yes, I want 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, looking 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 grim .”

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 piece. When a female pal was over at his region recently, he testified her Vampire’s Kiss, his too-little-known 80 s fright gem about a mortal who guesses 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, only from various ages: he has the long face and nose of Max Schreck in 1922′ s Nosferatu, the high forehead of Werner Krauss in 1920′ s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and the wild, fault gazes of Klaus Kinski. These are the extremely actors Cage always wanted to be like, having grown up watching them with his beloved father, Augustus Coppola, who manufactured sure his son was grounded in the classics. He were seeking to introducing the lessons he earned from those movies into his own movies; even the hand gesticulates from Moonstruck that I used to imitate were a reference to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. That might clang laughably ostentatious, but there is something refreshing about someone from the American film industry who doesn’t think film history necessitates exclusively Frank Capra movies or, a la Tarantino, old-fashioned Jackie Chan or roadhouse films.” It’s true, I’m a throwback ,” Cage nods.

Con Air, 1997. Photograph: Allstar/ TOUCHSTONE

Does he horror ogling nonsensical?

” All I are concerned about is the alteration so I never see:’ Is this ridiculous ?’ Even though”- he titters-” sometimes it is !”

His methods of getting into reference are famous: make preparations for Leaving Las Vegas, he hired the by then permanently wino poet, Tony Dingman, to be his” boozing consultant “.” I thoughts Mike[ Figgis, the director] “ve been a little”:’ What are we doing ?’ Because suddenly there was this drunk poet with me all the time ,” he says solemnly.

For Bad Lieutenant, he compulsively snorted saccharine to introduce him in the mindset of a drug addict.” I remember I freaked Werner[ Herzog] out a bit, 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, using words such as” German expressionist”,” western kabuki” and, my personal favourite,” nouveau shamanic”, haven’t done much to dispel the thought he is, at the very least, a little bananas. But today he speaks of it with relative straightforwardness.

” I can do photorealism, but I wanted to let it be known that behaving can break forms and hark back to something else. I’m a fan of artistic synchronicity, “when youre doing” one model in another, like Munch’s Scream in Ghostrider ,” he says, plucking the aforementioned face.” Not natural but truthful , not crazy for craziness’s sake .”

But it must be frustrating to aim for Munch and Kinski, simply to be reduced to internet supercuts about Cage Rage.” It extends both behaviors.[ The internet supercuts] hindered 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, reeling the word ” memes” around in his lip disdainfully.” But I don’t have any umbrage about it. I’m going to give it my all each time, and I imagine people know that now ,” he says.

They didn’t at the beginning though, so how on earth make he persuasion his early administrators to let him try acts that look so, well, odd?

” I was lucky. I had people who started along with me for the journey and, surely, sculpted it with me ,” he says. This is possibly not how the film-makers themselves experienced it: the Coen brethren were so unsure about him, they obliged him audition for Raising Arizona 20 experiences, and he was nearly fuelled from Moonstruck when he initially insisted on bringing in Jean Cocteau references. As for Peggy Sue Got Married, he acknowledges:” I was lucky my uncle was directing it ,” his uncle being Francis Ford Coppola.

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

” But I suppose 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 interview, she was asked about working with Cage:” He was very difficult on specify. The lane 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 road he lived their own lives, ever listening to the Beatles and playing guitar ,” he says.

But when Cage started acting as a teenager, he promptly realised he would have to change his surname to avoid attacks of nepotism.

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

Whereas he changed his surname to get interval from their own families, his then close friend Charlie Sheen- born Carlos Estevez- changed his surname to his father Martin Sheen’s stage name. Didn’t he think that was weird?

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

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

” I believe I felt a contact there, an understanding of the pressure of having a famed call. One of the things Lisa loved about me was that I changed my appointed- she thought that was the coolest event. But I don’t really weigh those two weddings, I don’t think they belong on my record. The real matrimony for me was the 14 years I had with Alice and “their childrens” we have together ,” he says.

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

” Oh no, I thoughts 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 very long time “. I ask if he thinks maybe the psychological extremes he goes to in his period activity make it hard to have a relationship.

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 live their lives- 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 beings to be around .”

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

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

Cage’s occupation has exited from 80 s humors to 90 s activity movies to 21 st-century horror, with oddball classics like Wild at Heart and Bad Lieutenant sprayed among them. Yet what has been consistent is that Cage himself has been seen as one of Hollywood’s last eccentrics. And hitherto in person he comes across as astonishingly uneccentric. In happening he seems-” Boring, right ?” No!” No, I truly am ,” he says, and he examines so anxious again that I want to hug him.

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

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

What , now? “Yes!”

Two waiters are flitting. So is the movie PR. People from the tables next to us to begin to stare.

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

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

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

I stammer defenses for my horrid play, but he shakes his head.” No, that was GREAT. You certainly Devoted. Yes !”

Mandy is exhausted on 12 October

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


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