Nicolas Cage is a very curious actor. He’s genuinely very talented and has an Oscar for best actor for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas to prove it but in the last decade something very odd has happened to him. He’s become, basically, a living internet meme since his 90s heyday.
In fact, ’90s Cage is virtually un-recognizable to ’00s Cage. His career seems to be bookended by a string of awful films at the beginning of his career, some really great ones in the middle and then a return to starring in awful films. It took only a couple of years for his reputation as an actor to veer away from Oscar winner and into “so bad it’s good” territory.
No other Oscar-winner has fallen into the “I just don’t care” phase of his career at such a young age. It took De Niro and Pacino a good 25 years before they started phoning it in while Cage spent the 90s being a terrific actor then it seems like he just decided against continuing making great movies like Raising Arizona or Bringing Out the Dead. The major difference between Cage and other Oscar winners who seem to be phoning it in is I can’t tell if Cage is really phoning it in or if he is just playing some strange game with the movie going public that only he knows the rules to.
Listening to him discuss his latest films makes it even harder to tell if he’s choosing them because he likes the role or if he just wants to mess with people. When being interviewed about how he prepared to make Ghost Rider 2 he said:
“What I’d do, I’d put on Afro-Caribbean black paint and black out my eyes so I looked like this sort of Afro-Caribbean voodoo icon… I’d try to trick my mind into believing I was this character from another dimension.”
When he was interviewed about making Wicker Man he described it as “a brilliant dark comedy.” To add to this he describes his acting style as nouveau shamanic(a phrase Jim Morrison must be rolling over in his grave for not inventing) which is an acting method that he states “has magical powers that help me transform into a character.”
He seems to accept literally any role that comes his way and he has a repertoire of truly awful movies to show for it. It’s almost like Nicolas Cage is picking his movie roles the same way he orders his food at Taco Bell. It seems like he just finds something vaguely familiar and just goes with it whether it will benefit him or not.
All of his roles in the ’00s are virtually the same with maybe some small thing that makes each one just a little different than the one before it but still not different enough to make a difference. But, every now and again he’ll take a chance on something and remind everyone that he was once a great actor. Kick-Ass, Adaptation and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans are all examples of this.
Much has been said about his odd spending habits. He bought an octopus to study it, as a way to better hone his acting abilities, he has a golden pyramid in his backyard that he wishes to be buried in – not to mention he owns various automobiles, a jet and a castle.
His reputation as a lunatic is not only perpetuated by his ridiculous spending habits or choice of acting roles as of late but also his fans. There was a rumor in mid-January that stated he had died in a snowboarding accident in Switzerland while certain sections of the internet are devoted entirely to Nicolas Cage memes. He even has his own page on knowyourmeme.com.
Nicolas Cage stopped being an actor quite a while ago and now he exists as more of an internet legend and less of a legitimate artist. He is likely to be remembered as having one of the most bizarre careers in Hollywood history which is a real shame because he is a truly great actor. One thing is for certain though: it will be a very long time before the internet lets anyone forget about the name Nicolas Cage with the dozens of YouTube videos devoted solely to his more bizarre moments on film and the endless parade of memes that he inspires.
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear any thoughts you may have of Mr. Cage in the comments.
This article was first posted on February 18, 2013