Nic Cage made over $150 million acting between 1996 and 2011. He got a $20 million paycheck for Gone in Sixty Seconds ($20 million), the same again for two National Treasure movies and even cleared $16 million for Snake Eyes. Movies like Con Air and Face/Off cemented his position as a leading action star while his body of work showed he was willing to take risks.
However, there was trouble brewing behind the scenes. He blamed his money manager for sending him “down a path toward financial ruin.” At the same time, his personal spending became legendary. Dinosaur skulls, two albino king cobras, two Bahamian islands, a haunted house, a superyacht, and even the Shah of Iran’s Ferrari were among his purchases.
This coincided with some box-office duds like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Then, in 2009, the IRS slapped the actor with a $6.2 million tax lien and Nicolas Cage needed money, and needed it fast.
This led to him spending several years making numerous movies that were mostly direct-to-video titles. Every so often, flashes of the old Cage were there in movies like Prisoners of the Ghostland and Pig. Talk grew of a Nic Cage renaissance.
Now it could well be here with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent in cinemas and drawing rave reviews. Out doing the rounds for this movie he sat down to give an interview with Rolling Stone and spoke about this period in his life. He is upfront about it and says his commitment to his craft didn’t waver, no matter what he was doing:
“People thought I didn’t care. I did. I was caring. I think that I did some of the best work of my life in that so-called ‘direct to video’ period. ‘Massive Talent’ was in that group. ‘Mandy’ was in that group. ‘Pig,’ ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans,’ ‘Joe,’ ‘Mom and Dad,’ ‘Color Out of Space’ – they were all in that group.
‘The Runner’ I thought was terrific. I’ll put any of those movies up [against] the first 30 years. If there is a misconception, it’s perhaps overlooking that there was a genuine commitment to performance.
To answer your question, I think that [people thinking I didn’t care] would be a misconception in my view. But then again, all art is subjective. People are open to their opinions and their interpretations. Whatever they want to take from it, they’re not wrong.”
He also seemed to hint that the tighter budgets and smaller crews serv actors well:
“The best workshop, the best acting class I could have. I think it really was practice. I felt it made it so much easier for me to access my emotional content or my imagination. It was at my fingertips because of the training and the constant work.”
Cage paid off his debts two years ago. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opens wide in a couple of days. Cage’s next role will be as Dracula in Renfield.
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