When Nicolas Cage was first contacted about playing a little crazy version of himself in the film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, he was apprehensive to accept the role. His anxieties were heightened when he learned that the film’s “Nicolas Cage” character would be destitute, living in a hotel, estranged from his wife and teenage daughter, and forced to make a personal appearance at a wealthy fan’s birthday party to repay his debt. There’s also a reoccurring scene when a crazed Cage from the Wild at Heart era appears out of nowhere to argue with the modern-day Cage.
When he eventually read the screenplay and met with director Tom Gormican, who co-wrote the picture with Kevin Etten, he began to bend a little. Cage says to Rolling Stone, “I didn’t want it to be anything that was completely sarcastic or like an SNL joke.” “I wanted it to have a little more depth, and Tom expressed genuine interest in some of my previous work,” says the author. And then, because of my fear, and because I believe that what you’re frightened of — within reason, as long as you’re not hurting yourself or others — is exactly what you should pursue because you could learn something, I responded, ‘Yes.'”
It was a wise choice. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (in theatres on April 22nd) has a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, continuing Cage’s career revival that began with the great Pig in 2021. In a New York hotel room, we spoke with the actor about the film, the Internet’s strange obsession with “Cage rage” videos, his long string of under-the-radar Video on Demand films, his complete lack of interest in ever doing TV work, the possibility of his aborted Nineties Superman project coming back to life in some form, and the legacies of Moonstruck, Bringing Out The Dead, and Adaptation.
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Which aspects of the character are the most like you?
I was relieved to be back in a comedy. It’s been a long time. I began making films like Raising Arizona because I believe I have a sense of humor. It’s a very strange sense of humor. I believe several of the scenes are quite personal to me. The wall sequence [in which Cage attempts to ascend a little wall while high on LSD] is quite… I’m not a fan of psychedelics, but that sequence is hilarious… I can picture myself acting out like that at home in an attempt to make folks laugh.
Are you aware of the Moonstruck cult that has developed? I know a lot of young individuals who are crazy about that movie. They keep watching it over and over again.
No. That’s fantastic to hear. The film is fantastic. You’re probably aware that I was apprehensive to make the film. It didn’t match my so-called punk-rock ideas about what we could accomplish with cinema performance at the time. Vampire’s Kiss is a better fit for that. But, against my agent’s desires, I did Vampire’s Kiss, and it was only because of Moonstruck. This was a trade we made. “If you do Moonstruck, I’ll let you do Vampire’s Kiss,” my agent [Ed Limato] offered.
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