Nicolas Cage has a tune caught in his head. It’s from a Pepto Bismol industrial wherein a flight crew serenades a lady with an upset abdomen, extolling the pink liquid’s promise of reduction from varied elements of gastric misery. As Cage joyfully belts a snippet from the tune, a candy croon of “Diarrhea…,” it will get everybody grinning on the Los Angeles set of his picture shoot and interview for Parade.

Making everybody smile can be Cage’s purpose for his newest movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (in theaters April 22). In the edgy comedy, he performs a fictionalized model of himself, considering retirement when he accepts $1 million to attend the birthday get together of a wacky fan. But Cage’s character will get roped right into a wild CIA mission, compelled to grow to be variations of varied characters he’s performed. “It was a real high-wire act,” he says. “I’ve never done anything like that before.”

With greater than 100 movies on his résumé, that’s a giant assertion. But Cage, 58, has a historical past of tackling numerous tasks and has no plans to stay to 1 sort of position. His recommendation for younger actors displays his life view: “Look for the truth. Don’t get stuck in a style.”

He as soon as mentioned he want to be thought-about a “thespian” relatively than an actor, a remark that made the net world mild up with a buzz about his supposed pretension. “I should have probably used a less highfalutin word than thespian,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with people calling me an actor. I was trying to say something about the process; it’s a spiritual experience. I don’t view it as a career; I view it only as work—I’m working. You don’t like the choice [I made for a movie]? Fine. I’m happy.”

Related: Nicolas Cage’s 10 Best Movie Roles

Growing Up Hollywood

Cage and Pedro Pascal in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate)

Cage—born Nicolas Kim Coppola—grew up in California, within the Los Angeles family of mother Joy, a choreographer and dancer, and his literature-professor father, August. His prolonged family consists of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire (Cage’s uncle and aunt), and his paternal grandfather, movie composer Carmine Coppola. Among his cousins are actor Jason Schwartzman, Shire’s son, and Coppola’s filmmaker daughter, Sofia.

Related: See the Cast of The Godfather Then and Now

In spite of what may appear to be a beautiful “Hollywood life,” “my childhood was not perfect,” Cage says. “My mother could be a real loon sometimes.” He discovered early to like escapism. “As a toddler, I would want to fall into the TV. I thought the people inside were so much more interesting than the people in my living room.” His father typically took him to art-house cinemas, the place he turned captivated by the traditional movies of Orson Welles, together with Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. He additionally devoured the Western flicks of Charles Bronson and the adventures of Bruce Lee. And at 15, he found James Dean, crediting the work of the rebellious younger actor with inspiring him to pursue a movie profession. Before lengthy, he modified his last name to keep away from the looks of nepotism together with his well-known uncle, drawing among the inspiration for his new name from the Marvel Comics character Luke Cage.

He was 18 when he made his film debut in 1982 with a minor position within the coming-of-age traditional Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and since then he’s amassed a formidable physique of labor in motion pictures, each mainstream and offbeat: He’s performed a Wall Street govt (The Family Man), an opera-loving bread maker (Moonstruck), an avenging angel (Ghost Rider), an eccentric historian (National Treasure), a scientist who turns into conscious that the world is ending (Knowing) and a troubled truffle hunter (Pig). And he received an Oscar for his portrayal of a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Los Vegas (1995).

When considering a job, he asks himself, “Do I have the emotional content? Do I have the life experience? Do I have the memories? Do I have the imagination?” He takes his characters critically and his preparations are generally excessive, like when he had two of his personal tooth eliminated—with out anesthesia—to play a Vietnam vet in Birdy. “It sounds a lot wackier than it was,” he says. “I had baby teeth that had to come out, so I figured I could utilize that.”

For motion pictures that formed his eclectic profession, he’s fast to call the 1997 motion movie Face/Off. “That was a watershed of different styles coming into a big adventure film, which I think worked on multiple levels,” he says. Some of his different tasks, notably Leaving Las Vegas and Pig, had been like “lightning in a bottle. That happened only twice in 43 years of doing this, where everything came together very quickly and effortlessly, and nothing was forced.” He additionally cites the Coen brothers comedy Raising Arizona and the lottery-ticket love story It Could Happen to You as having notable impacts on his trajectory as a performer.

Related: 30 of the Best Movies About Addiction and Alcoholism

A Mystery Man

Some of the general public perceptions of Cage forged him as a wild man who makes unpredictable, unconventional performing selections—and generally imbues them with emotion that may veer into hyperintensity. On the internet, brief clips and screenshots from a few of these performances have given rise to postings colloquially branded “Cage rage.” Those memes, nevertheless, aren’t so humorous to Cage, who admits they are often amusing however says they “lack the context of how the character got there.” But he is aware of at the very least among the Cage meme-ification is rooted in his personal anxiousness to make his mark as an actor. “In the beginning, I was trying to make a big noise, get on people’s radar and be punk-rock to get a lens on me,” he says. Nowadays, he’s making an attempt to “water down, since I’m 58, you know.”

There’s additionally part of Cage that enjoys being a mysterious actor who has lived in a fort and a haunted home, had pet cobras and constructed his personal pyramid-style tomb. “In terms of things that have made their way into the public psyche, some of them I can talk about, some I don’t want to talk about,” he says. “I kind of like the enigma; I want to be your very own American Loch Ness monster.” He smiles. “I don’t want to answer all the questions. Go ahead and wonder about it. Maybe that adds to the fun.”

A piece-in-progress untitled documentary, of which he’s the topic, might shed some new mild on Cage and his thriller, and he admits he’s “nervous about letting too many genies out of the bottle. I may have broken my own rules [about] having a mystique and not talking too much.”

Unlike plenty of actors, who vow to by no means dive into the net rabbit gap to seek out out what persons are saying about them, he admits he Googles himself. “I’ve done it so many times,” he says. “I figured out that I need to get ahead of things before it becomes something that is untrue.” He not too long ago referred to as his legal professional to get social media posts taken down by a Cage impersonator who swindled a feminine admirer. His new year’s decision was to curb all the net self-searching, however he picked up his smartphone early into the yr. “I broke my own resolution. And now I’m back in the cycle of the vicious circle, which I really do need to stop. It’s too stressful.”

Related: Nicolas Cage’s Top 10 Movie Hairstyles

Happy Homebody

Unlike plenty of actors who stay immersed of their characters all through filming—and even after a venture is completed—Cage says he attracts a tough line between residence and his work. “I know actors who will break up with their girlfriends, so they’ve got something to ‘play the character’ with. I don’t do that,” he says. And requested if he ever comes residence in character, he shakes his head. “I did do that in my 20s. But that doesn’t work for me; I can’t bring it home with me. When I’m done on the set, I’m done.”

Today when he’s finished, he goes residence to Riko Shibata, 27, his fifth spouse, whom he met in Japan, and with whom he not too long ago celebrated a one-year anniversary. (He was beforehand married to Erika Koike, Alice Kim, Lisa Marie Presley and Patricia Arquette.) The couple lives in Las Vegas. Cage liquidated a number of different properties he as soon as owned, together with houses in Rhode Island, Nevada and Louisiana, an Eleventh-century Bavarian fort in Germany and a San Francisco mansion. His household life immediately is “everything I had hoped and dreamed for. I literally meditated on it, tried to conjure it up. And it happened,” he says.

He and his spouse expect a toddler in September, and Cage is wanting ahead to being a brand new dad once more; he’s already father to sons Weston, 31, and Kal-El, 16. “So much of the childhood years I miss—watching them discover sunlight through a leaf on a tree or having a lobster on a dinner table for the first time—the shock and awe, like, ‘What is that?’” he says. “I miss going to the toy store.” He’s able to spend his mornings in a rocking chair together with his new baby. “I find it like a meditation; you’re rocking and you’re singing,” he says, launching right into a soulful rendition of “Three Blind Mice.”

Cage says he retains “farmer’s hours,” beginning his days predawn, between 4 and 5 a.m., hopping onto an elliptical bike whereas concurrently studying dialogue earlier than making breakfast. “I like to cook,” he says. If he has time, he’ll squeeze in a film day by day. “I try to find something that stimulates my psyche.” During quarantine, he binged Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa movies in addition to silent classics. He enjoys pulling “strange Japanese movies” from his worldwide DVD assortment. He’s a self-proclaimed information junkie, hooked on CNN, and has not too long ago been unwinding together with his newest e book buy, The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics. He additionally friends round together with his cats, and his pet crow, Huginn, for whom he constructed a large geodesic dome inside his Las Vegas residence. “He is very fun. He is very intelligent. He gets happy. He jumps up and down and flaps his wings like this,” Cage says, imitating his bird.

At this stage of his life and profession, he describes himself as homebody, even turning down roles that will intrude together with his household time. “I’m not a social butterfly. I don’t like to go out that often,” he says. The idea of superstar remains to be a bit odd to him, the best way different folks typically have a look at him and see a star. “I look at myself in the mirror and go, ‘Wow, I could really use a little more sleep.’”

His followers, he is aware of, are a various bunch. “They’re all-important members of the filmgoing community,” he says, noting that his horror followers are “the most religious about the importance of the genre.” Then there are motion fanatics, and those that love him for his romantic comedies. “I want to make all kinds of movies. That keeps me interested,” he says. He additionally aspires to be a author. He as soon as wrote a script referred to as Paint It Black, however the sole copy was on his laptop computer, which he positioned in a briefcase…and by chance ran over together with his automotive—a scene which itself may simply be the premise of a movie. “One hundred twenty pages of hard work, and I never got it back,” he says with a sigh. He hasn’t written since then, however it sometimes crosses his thoughts to return to the world of letters.

In the meantime, he’s transferring forward, pushing himself into new performing territory to fulfill his followers—and his personal appetites. “I never forget that I’m a student,” he says. “I would never call myself a maestro. I’m someone that is always looking to learn, always looking to go into that which terrifies me.”

And this enigmatic actor says he feels most like himself when he has a personality to painting—even when the character, like in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is him. “I’m at my best when I have a job to do. I’m healthier,” he says. “I’m a better man when I’m working.”

Related: The Nicolas Cage Drama Pig is One of the Best Films of 2021

Cage Faves

Favorite childhood cartoon: “Felix the Cat. I loved him, his ‘bag of tricks’ and the way he would laugh with his hands on his belly. He was cool.”

Childhood crush: “In first or second grade there was a girl with Buddy Holly glasses and a red vinyl raincoat. One day, she put her arms around me and hugged me and went, ‘I love you, Nicky.’ And then she never came back to school. I used to walk around trying to find this girl in the neighborhood. Never found her.”

Guilty pleasure: Martinis

Ideal date night time: Enjoy a Dassai 23 sake and watch an Akira Kurosawa or a Hirokazu Kore-eda film

Favorite passion: Reading

Favorite animal: “My relationship with my Maine coon, Merlin, is a pretty profound relationship. So, I would have to say the cat.” 

Actors I’ve at all times idolized: “So many different ones for different things: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Jerry Lewis, James Dean, Gene Wilder, Sidney Poitier.”

Best recommendation I ever obtained: “I was visiting Charlie Sheen at his house before any of us really hit it. [Sheen’s dad] Martin Sheen said, ‘All that matters is, did you like where you were? Did you like the people you were working with?’ I’ve kept that as my mantra ever since.”

Worst recommendation: “In high school, I told a friend, ‘I’m going to be a movie star.’ And he said, ‘No you’re not. You can’t do that.’ Thank God I didn’t listen to him.”

Favorite tattoo: “When I first moved to Nevada, I created a Western yin-yang of the sun going through a palm tree and a rattlesnake coming up. So the high and low—the lowness of the reptile and the rattlesnake, and then the sunlight through the palm tree. I’m very proud of that. I designed that tattoo.”

Biggest film blooper: “The end of Family Man. Jeremy Piven said something, which I will not reiterate. And I could not stop laughing. Look at the end of the movie. It’s there!”

Next, We Ranked the 65 Best Movies of the 1990s

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