I AM LEGEND
Nicolas Cage Is a National Treasure
The unapologetically weird actor got into a tussle with Vince Neil—of Mötley Crüe fame—in Vegas, and in the process reminded us why we just can’t quit him.
Nicolas Cage will die in the name of honor. He once, for example, spent seven years in a maximum-security prison after defending his wife from a pack of predatory, military-bashing rednecks. OK, that’s the plot of Con Air, but I truly know this to be the case because he once screamed those very words mid-Cage Rage while being ejected from a nightclub in Bucharest. And on Thursday in Sin City, he reaffirmed the motto DITNOH by restraining Vince Neil with a nifty hug/chokehold after the puffy Mötley Crüe frontman reportedly attacked a woman whose only crime was coveting the Oscar-winner’s autograph, as anyone who’s seen the aforementioned plane-full-of-convicts-dancing-to-“Sweet Home Alabama” masterpiece is wont to do.
“I fucking love you! Stop this shit NOW!” Cage is heard shouting in Neil’s ear while neutralizing him, at which point Neil, who proved for the umpteenth time that you should never trust anyone with two first names, goes limp. Some of the action—which is way, way better than anything Cage has done onscreen of late—was caught on camera:
It’s been a weird week for Cage when it comes to ’80s hair metal.
Six days prior, he unwittingly helped sneak a fan into the first Guns N’ Roses reunion concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles before kickin’ it in the balcony section with pals Jim Carrey and Andrew Dice Clay. Talk about #squadgoals. And if you’re confused about that combo, well, two years ago, Cage and Dice presented GnR singer Axl Rose with a lifetime achievement award, with Cage delivering a deliciously over-the-top speech where he branded Axl “a true hero” and claimed to have studied his “cobra-like onstage moves” for his turn in Ghost Rider. That wasn’t even Cage turned up to 11, though—that came a couple months later when he attended a GnR concert in Vegas sporting a purple blazer, cowboy hat, leather cowboy pants, aviator shades, big gold rings, and a plethora of bead necklaces obscuring a T-shirt bearing a caricature of himself on it, all while balancing a big glass of red wine in one hand and a cane in the other. It appears to be the same purple blazer Cage wore while restraining Neil. This is Cage’s Vegas jacket. There are many like it but this one is his.
This is all to say that Nic Cage, 52, is one of our most esteemed weirdos; a cult icon as revered for his outré life choices as his bevy of lovingly weird screen performances. Unfortunately, those two have been rather intertwined of late, as Cage has appeared in crap film after crap film in order to help pay off the millions he owes the IRS due to his lavish spending habits. And we’re not just talking about mansions or vintage cars here—though he does own numerous mega-homes, including several medieval castles, and once purchased a Lamborghini from the ex-Shah of Iran for $450,000—but some really funky stuff. Specifically, Cage has a collection of dinosaur skulls—including a 67 million-year-old Tarbosaurus skull valued at over $300,000 (he outbid Leonardo DiCaprio at auction to secure it); shrunken pygmy heads; two albino king cobras; one shark; one crocodile; and a $150,000 octopus that he’s claimed helps him with his acting.
Oh, but that’s not all. There’s also his gigantic pyramid tomb at the Saint Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, where Cage will eventually be buried. He previously owned a haunted house in the French Quarter, but sold it at a foreclosure auction. Cage also owned a pristine copy of Action Comics #1, aka the first appearance of Superman, but was forced to sell it at auction for $2.16 million to help pay off his debts to Uncle Sam. Cage, by the way, is a huge Superman fan. He has a 10-year-old son named Kal-El (Superman’s birth name), and came this close to playing the Man of Steel in one of the most famous aborted movie projects of all-time: Tim Burton’s 1998 flick Superman Lives.
Cage has also inspired a rich secondary market of goods on sites like Etsy, which hawk items ranging from T-shirts to paintings of the eccentric actor. The Cult of Cage lives strong among online admirers, perhaps due to all the bizarre viral stories surrounding the actor.Yes, in addition to his bizarre purchase history, Cage was once stalked by a mime for almost 10 years. “I was being stalked by a mime—silent, but maybe deadly,” Cage said of the encounter. “Somehow, this mime would appear on the set of Bringing Out the Dead and start doing strange things.
“I have no idea how it got past security,” he added. “Finally, the producers took some action and I haven’t seen the mime since. But it was definitely unsettling.”
In 2011, after Cage was arrested following a drunken argument with his wife in New Orleans, he was mysteriously bailed out by Dog the Bounty Hunter.“I am a truly dedicated fan of Mr. Cage and will not be granting any interviews about my client as I wish to respect his privacy,” Duane “Dog” Chapman, a bail bondsman, said in a statement.
But the oddest Cage tale will always be the time the actor woke up from his slumber to find a naked man wearing his leather jacket eating a Fudgsicle at the foot of his bed.“It was 2 in the morning. I was living in Orange County at the time and was asleep with my wife,” recalled Cage. “My 2-year-old at the time was in another room. I opened my eyes and there was a naked man wearing my leather jacket eating a Fudgsicle in front of my bed.”
“I know it sounds funny... but it was horrifying.”Offscreen oddities aside, though, Cage has cultivated such fervent fan worship because he is capable of brilliance onscreen, portraying a diverse array of tenderly-flawed, larger-than-life characters. Raising Arizona. Wild at Heart. Leaving Las Vegas. Adaptation. In the ’90s, he experienced arguably the greatest run of action-movie roles ever, appearing in The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off in a row. One of the big reasons why Cage is able to embody such memorable characters is his deep commitment to the acting craft. Cage often arrives on set with his own vision of the character, and adjusts accordingly. For example, while shooting the action-classic The Rock, it was Cage’s idea to have his FBI Agent Stanley Goodspeed 1) Be named Stanley (it was originally “Bill”), 2) Be a Beatlemaniac, 3) Not curse, and 4) Be terrified of having children.
“I take a lot of my frustrations from life and inject my characters with them,” Cage said of designing his character on the film’s DVD commentary. “The Rock was not a finished script when I came onboard, and if anything, I think Jerry [Bruckheimer] really welcomed my ideas and that is unusual. I have time and time again been told ‘that’s crazy,’ or ‘too off the wall,’ or ‘offbeat,’ or always ‘what are you talking about,’ you know, but Michael [Bay] really encouraged it.” There’s one scene in The Rock that is quintessential Nic Cage: he is being straddled by his wife, played by Vanessa Marcil, and in the middle of sex blurts out, “Just amaretto cream and peach sorbet persuasion.”
This entire scene was, of course, improvised by Cage. And his rationale for it is eye-opening:“Words, I like words, I like the way words sound, I like funny words, I like to put words together and that really comes into, I guess, the writing aspect of acting for me,” he said on the commentary track. “I like to lay with words and I guess it comes from a sort of wacked sense of humor.
“I guess at one time in my life I had a wild run and got into all kinds of experiences with different women, and I remember I used to talk about different things with them and for some reason my mind would go into places where I would talk about amaretto cream and peach sorbet, or I guess I was a bit like cheap red wine where I would pull anything out to appeal to them in some way, and in this scene I guess I pulled out some of those sayings I had from eons ago. I’m not like that any more, I’m a married man, but I still like to go back and pull these things out of my hat.”
There’s another fascinating anecdote Cage once shared about his experience shaping his drug-addicted New Orleans cop in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans—a brilliant, underrated performance mind you—that helps shed light on his unique process.
“I was doing a scene, it was in my second day of shooting… we all know the imagination, the preparation to think I was on cocaine,” said Cage. “There was a little bottle of inositol, which is baby powder, and I’m snorting that and I’m psyching up and I’m psyching up and [Werner] says, ‘Now Nic-o-las, vat is in that vial?’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? After four hours of this you’re gonna actually ask me that and take me out of my preparation? I went, ‘It’s COKE!’”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Nicolas Cage is a national treasure.