Nic Cage Isn’t Just the Mystery the Internet Thinks He Is

Nicolas Cage in Willy

I am not quiet about my obsession with understanding Nic Cage. It’s been a long time coming, as someone who grew up loving Raising Arizona and Face/Off. And there’s been a history of people not really knowing or understanding who Cage is as a person. There was, after all, an entire episode of Community dedicated to Abed trying to understand Nic Cage.

Abed pretending to be Nic Cage in Community
(NBC)

But that “legacy” isn’t exactly the one that Cage wants to leave the world with. In a new profile with GQ, Cage got very candid about a lot of things, including his array of pets, his famous family, and the persona that has become his legacy in Hollywood.

Cage is easily one of our most fascinating actors, and most of his performances stay with you because of his face, something that director Martin Scorsese told to GQ writer Gabriella Paiella. “There’s a spiritual conflict in Nick’s eyes and in his face,” Martin Scorsese said. “It’s visible, it’s open, and it translates into an overall sense of unease. The conflict is an inner questioning: Will I be redeemed? Have I done enough?”

So the issue with Cage’s latest movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is that it, in a way, is relient on the “outrageousness” of Nic Cage that we’ve come to know and love. When director Tom Gormican approached Cage about the project, with a script written by Kevin Etten, it was sort of a love letter to that overzealous version of the actor. “Tom always said the neurotic Nick Cage is the best Nick Cage,” Cage told Paiella. “I said, ‘It’s not all neurotic, Tom.’ I mean, I have very quiet moments at home, just sitting on a couch or looking at CNN or reading a Murakami book.”

Cage is more than the supercuts

In the profile, they point out a real-life moment when Cage was on a British talk show in the ’90s that led to a moment in Unbearable Weight trying to “highlight” the more outrageous side of him. But when you think about it, most of those odd Cage instances ended back in the ’90s and have just stuck with his career and the pop culture idea of him, even now.

“I had some moments that I went off and did some wild stuff, but a lot of that was by design,” he said. “I think many people in the public got swept up with an idea of me being kind of a wild madman, which was fun in the beginning.”

What it all did, though, was lead to a series of video compilations of some of Cage’s more outrageous moments online and the episode of Community (which I love) where Abed tries to figure out if Nic Cage is a good actor or not. But the actor, who was seemingly upset at first about the way people viewed him, realized that he couldn’t really fight it. Saying, “You can’t go against that which is,” Cage is, sadly, sort of right. The internet will feel what they want, and with someone like Cage, who has been at this for decades, they’re going to think he’s some enigma instead of just a man who has fun with his career.

But it is clear that Cage does still have some strong feelings about those who “mocked” him throughout the years. With the release of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent coming out this April, Cage said that those at Saturday Night Live reached out to him to host after years of having Andy Samberg be the more “neurotic” caricature of him from the public consciousness. “I feel like saying, ‘Well, why don’t you call Andy Samberg? I mean, I hear he’s available.’”

I hope that The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent changes the minds of those who still think of Cage as that ’90s wild man, but at least we now have this profile of Cage to share anytime someone thinks they know who Nicolas Cage is.

(image: Screen Media Ventures)

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