With more than 100 films, Cage is an actor with very particular tastes

NEW YORK, USA.Nicolas Cage They have been inspired by the most skeptical things to create their characters, from “Metropolis”, Bruce Lee, Woody Woodpecker or having a pet cobra.

All this has served as inspiration for the performances of sometimes in private tributes that the actor has used as molds to build some of his most exaggerated, erratic and moving characters.

Similarly, a conversation with Cage has a wide range of sources. In a recent and typically eclectic interview ahead of the premiere of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” Cage made references to Picasso, Elia Kazan, Timothée Chalamet, and Francis Bacon. A book of interviews with Bacon, “The Brutality of Fact,” for example, helped Cage define his attraction to intense, even grotesque, performances, “that which is not obviously beautiful,” he said, rather than choosing for naturalism.

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“And I’ve approached my public perception as an actor, as well as the way I design my film work, with that concept in mind: not being afraid of being ugly in behavior or even in appearance,” Cage said, “to create that kind of taste. What do you have to find out?”

With over 100 movies to his credit, Cage, 58, Oscar winner for “Leaving Las Vegas” (“Goodbye Las Vegas”), star of action films like “Con Air” (“Risk in the air”) and source of countless Internet memes for his most theatrical moments in movies like “Face/Off” (“Face to face”), he has been for years one of the actors with the most particular tastes in cinema. Yet, being “an amateur surrealist,” as he refers to himself, he has emerged, even after starring in a string of minor films to pay back taxes and get out of debt, as one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars.

As “Unbearable Weight” director Tom Gormican says, “Just the sight of her face makes people happy.”

But even for the volatile Nicolas Cage, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” represents something different. In this film, released on Friday, the actor plays himself. Or rather a kind of distorted version of himself, like in a house of mirrors, who sometimes interacts with his younger self. The movie is a great homage to Cage in that the actor somehow manages to lampoon perceptions of himself and act like those characters with sincerity.

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“The hallmark for me has always been that no matter what I design, whether it’s ridiculous — and it’s often ridiculous — or sublime, it has to be grounded in genuine emotional content,” Cage said.

“No matter how broad or what some people like to call exaggerated, it had a genuine feeling,” he added.

But what is hype for Cage? This is the actor who, inspired by Nosferatu for his role in “Vampire’s Kiss”, recited the alphabet in one of the craziest ways ever heard. The answer is simple: “Well, show me where the top is and I’ll tell you if I passed it.”

“I grew up in a house where my mom did things that, if you put them in a movie, you would say were over the top,” said Cage, whose mother, Joy Coppola, was a dancer and choreographer. Her father, August Coppola, brother of Francis, was a professor of literature. “But what is the limit? When you want to design something and you think about different styles — naturalism, impressionism, surrealism, abstract — then you start to see it in a different way. It won’t be for everyone and it won’t necessarily sell tickets. But it’s okay”.

“Cinema is a business and I didn’t take that path without taking a risk, but it was important to me,” he added. “I stuck to it and sure enough, I got a lot of rotten tomatoes thrown in my face. But I knew that was going to happen, so it wasn’t something I didn’t expect.”

What’s unusual about Cage is that many of those experiments have sold tickets. A lots of. Cage’s films have grossed nearly $5 billion at the worldwide box office. However, it has been a while since he starred in a major studio film.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” which Lionsgate premiered at the South by Southwest festival to rave reviews, allows him to toy with the idea of ​​a comeback. In the movie, he’s desperate for better parts than the million-dollar birthday party he’s offered to attend. The film was an opportunity to grapple, usually comically and sometimes physically, with his own exaggerated mythology.

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“He would come up to me and say (lowers his voice), ‘Tom, there’s a guy who wears rings and leather jackets and lives in Vegas and he would never say that line,'” Gormican recalled. “And I would say, ‘Oh, you mean you.’ And he would say, ‘Yes.’ And I would say, ‘Well, it’s not you. He is a character based on you.’ And he would say, ‘But he has my name.’ And I’d be like, ‘Come on, man, just say the line.’”

“We had arguments about who understood Nick Cage better,” Gormican added, laughing.

Cage initially turned Gormican down several times before an emotional letter finally convinced him to make the film. The problem was that Cage, even in his most outrageous roles, has never questioned his performances. He tends to commit fully to even the most unhinged characters, such as in Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans.” Cage initially feared that the Gormican movie would be a parody of himself, and while he has those elements, the actor takes it in less predictable directions.

“Without naming names, there were some actors who walked out the door that I thought were really sincere and emotionally deep and honest at first and then got drunk on their own accomplishments,” Cage said. “They started winking at the audience and, in my opinion, the emotional connection was lost. It’s tricky when you make the decision that you want to be sensitive and raw.”

The actor reaches some gonzo heights in the film. After one scene, Gormican was honored to hear Cage say, “That was the whole Cage. You have the complete Cage.” Another scene shows the two Cages kissing, after which the younger one exclaims, “Nick Cage is a good kisser!”

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Cage’s own exotic tastes (he once had to return a dinosaur skull he bought that had been stolen from Mongolia) have contributed to his legend. But he insists that it is normal in his life to be extreme in his work, and that some of his self-promotion, such as an embarrassingly wacky appearance in “Wogan,” was actually staged.

Last year Cage married Riko Shibata, his fifth wife, and they are expecting a child. Cage also has two adult children; One sticking point on “Unbearable Weight” was that they didn’t show him as an absent father — one of the fictional Cages wouldn’t allow it. After an unusually introspective press tour for the film, Cage is looking forward to returning to the desert outside of Las Vegas, where he lives. He could use a break from “Nick Cage.”

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” closes a chapter for the actor. He has finally gotten out of debt after making some 30 video-on-demand movies in the last decade to pay off the IRS and his creditors. He doesn’t apologize for those movies. They made him a better actor, he said.

“I was practicing. I managed to keep access to my imagination at my fingertips. It was a much better way for me to shake off that financial crisis than doing something like a Super Bowl commercial, and believe me they offered it,” Cage said. “That was also a point for me, that I am not a salesman, I am an actor.”

Once again, you can also feel a push from mass culture behind it. His performance in last year’s “Pig,” as a grizzled truffle hunter with a past, earned him some of the best reviews in years. It was a more naturalistic performance than is usually characterized, and a reminder of his limitless range. Having started acting professionally at the age of 15, Cage recalled that he has been doing this for a long time. For him, his journey began, appropriately enough, with a bold performance.

Cage says that his father had a great influence on him, exposing him to books, old movies, and paintings. But he could be harsh with his words.

“And I just wasn’t going to accept it,” Cage said. “I knew that he believed in me more than he said. I cheated on him once and did something I’ve never done since: I lied. I said, ‘Dad, I wrote this song. ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him?’ of Joe Jackson and he believed me. He was like, ‘Wow, Nicky, that’s amazing.’ I received the positive affirmation he needed to believe in myself. That was the only time a lie saved me.”