Maverick Spirit Event: Nicolas Cage
Meaning no disrespect to the late, great James Brown’s legacy, Nicolas Cage may very well also lay claim to that designation as “the hardest working man in show business.” In a career spanning four decades, Cage (at a young age) has seemingly done it all, working with the best actors, directors (Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Mike Figgis, Norman Jewison, the Coen brothers, Werner Herzog, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, Spike Jonze, to name a few), and writers, producing great film after film after film, in virtually every genre. The man certainly does not like to be idle. He seems to take on all comers and puts his own unique stamp on each one. Besides his extensive résumé of roles, there are also the numerous accolades and awards, including an Oscar nomination for Adaptation, and receiving the statuette for Leaving Las Vegas. If you were to define Cage’s acting in one word it would have to be “fearless.” He’s not afraid to tackle any kind of challenge, be it drama, comedy, science fiction, action, period pieces, animation or horror. His acting style has often been described, not inaccurately, as operatic. With each role, he puts it all out there, willing to crank up the volume to 11, if need be, to service the character and the story.
His film titles represent a distinctive catalogue of American cinema that evokes vividly memorable scenes: hyper kinetic action, tender romantic moments, bravery, comedy, foolhardiness…a whole “kitchen sink” of emotions. The list is eye-popping. Rumble Fish, Cotton Club, Birdy, Peggy Sue Got Married, Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart, Red Rock West, Guarding Tess, Leaving Las Vegas, The Rock, Conair, Face/Off, Bringing Out the Dead, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Matchstick Men, Windtalkers, Mom and Dad, and the upcoming dystopian thriller, The Humanity Bureau.
Cage caught the acting bug in high school, watching James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. He says that when he saw those two movies, he wanted to be James Dean. As part of American film’s unofficial royal family, i.e. the Coppolas, Cage (who assumed his stage name to avoid charges of nepotism) was steeped in the arts early on. His father August Coppola was a highly regarded academic/educator and also worked as an executive at brother Francis’s American Zoetrope production company, where he was instrumental in restoring Abel Gance’s 1927 silent masterpiece, Napoleon. Uncle Francis is the legendary cinema writer and director, whose iconic work (The Godfather, Godfather II, Apocalypse Now) is among the finest in the history of American film. Cage’s grandfather Carmine composed exquisite film scores (The Godfather, Godfather II, Apocalypse Now, The Black Stallion), his aunt Talia Shire (The Godfather, the Rocky franchise), is an award-winning actor in her own right. Cousin Sofia is an accomplished actor and film director (The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation, The Beguiled), as is cousin Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Express). It’s quite the stable of thoroughbreds, but Cage fits in admirably.
Of late, Mr. Cage has taken on the exciting new realm of Virtual Reality. His incredible new sci-fi movie, The Humanity Bureau, will release in theatres soon, and the sister experience, The Humanity Bureau VRevolution, premieres at the Cinequest Virtual Reality Experience.
In the recent horror picture, Mom and Dad, Cage incinerates the screen with his character’s total meltdown, leading to some criticism of his performance being over the top. But in a Variety interview, Cage dismissed those perceptions with his typical, dry wit. “You show me where the top is and I’ll let you know whether I’m over it or not, all right?” And, as far as acting goes, Cage has his own particular take on that, too. In the same Variety interview, he commented, “I don’t even like the word acting anymore because it implies lying in some way. I don’t act, I feel.” However Nicolas Cage wants to define what he does, there is a personal truth he brings to every character he portrays. And that keeps film lovers of all genres eagerly interested and always coming back for more.
This extraordinary evening and event includes a conversation with Mr. Cage, a video tribute and Maverick Spirit Award presentation, plus a look at Mr. Cage’s recent venture into the world of virtual reality acting.