Nicolas Cage is the greatest actor in the world. The world has just never quite known what to do with him. Is he a romantic lead? A family-friendlywisecracking Everyman? A fucked-up cockroach-devouring loose cannon? A hella buff punching machine? Nobody’s ever been quite sure, which is why he’s the only actor alive who could have ended up as the lead in Con Air, Captain Correlli’s Mandolin and National Treasure 2.
And how good-looking is he? Is he good-looking? Nobody’s ever been able to work it out, and he’s too well-known to be looked at objectively. All anyone sees is Nicolas Cage. We will literally never know if Nicolas Cage is good-looking or not.
He’s eaten a live cockroach on screen, had his teeth removed for a role, insisted on the weird bit in The Rock where he’s naked playing the guitar, and spent a lot of the making of Ghost Rider: Spirits Of Vengeance drunk on schnapps and covered in facepaint. He was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley, has a son who’s a metal vocalist, and once tried to sue Kathleen Turner after she alleged in her autobiography that he’d stolen a chihuahua. He’s been directed by the Coen brothers, Martin Scorcese, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, John Woo and Werner Herzog, voiced a cartoon mole, a cartoon rat and a cartoon caveman.
He’s both developed his own, inimitable acting style (Nouveau Shamanic, based on beliefs about ancient medicine men) and worn some of the film industry’s least convincing wigs (in, among others, Next, Knowing, Ghost Rider and Bangkok Dangerous). He’s an enigma, a fascinating, shouting, bug-eyed mystery that may never truly be solved, a performer who frequently does more acting than everyone else in the movie he’s in put together. He’s fucking brilliant.
Here are nine of the the many things that make Nicolas Cage the most interesting actor alive:
- He’s owned two different castles - Midford Castle in Somerset (which he owned from 2007 to 2009) and Schloss Neidstein in Bavaria (which he had from 2006 to 2009).
- He still owns an island, a small cay in the Bahamian archipegalo of Exuma.
- He’s apparently an excellent grandfather - his son, metal vocalist Weston Cage, had a son in 2014 and describes Cage taking to the role beautifully.
- He once got in a bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio over a dinosaur skull. Cage ended up paying $276,000 for the Tarbosaurus skull, which he later discovered was stolen from Mongolia. He returned it to Mongolian authorities.
- He already has a tomb, a pyramid-shaped mausoleum in New Orleans’ oldest cemetery. It’s nine feet tall and made of white marble, bearing the legend “omnia ab uno,” meaning “everything from one.”
- He once had his comic collection stolen and later returned, but had to sell his copy of Action Comics #1 (featuring the first appearance of Superman) for $2.16 million to pay a tax bill. He was once in the running to play Superman (in Tim Burton’s doomed Superman Lives project) and named his youngest son Kal-El, Superman’s Kryptonian name.
- He was once bailed out of jail by Dog the Bounty Hunter.
- He’s donated over $3 million to charity over the years, being named as one of Hollywood’s most generous celebrities by Forbes magazine. This is despite myriad financial issues caused by alleged mismanagement and negative equity. The UN gave him an award for his humanitarian work, naming him Global Citizen of the Year in 2009 and a goodwill ambassador on drugs and crime.
- If he wanted to, he could go by Dr Nicolas Cage - he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University.
Partly due to his financial issues, Cage now has the most cheerfully inconsistent output of any actor of his stature. He’ll still show up in Hollywood prestige projects, but most of his recent filmography consists of straight-to-streaming movies shot on low budgets and co-starring people whose names show up red on Wikipedia.
But one of his upcoming projects, Mom & Dad, looks spectacular. Written and directed by Brian Taylor (half of the team behind the Crank films) and co-starring Selma Blair, it’s got a grim-as-hell high concept at its core (parents start murdering their kids!) and looks absurd, horrifying, hilarious, grim and brilliant all at once. Here’s the trailer:
Nicolas Cage shouting the Hokey Cokey while smashing a table with a sledgehammer then descending into loads of swearing is something that, as soon as you see it, feels like the most necessary thing in the world. The film’s had great reviews from festival screenings, with critics responding to its none-more-black combination of suburban satire, stomach-churning hideousness and violent, cranked-up Home Alone-style slapstick. And come on - who’s more perfect for both a put-upon dad getting hit in the head with a football and a deranged killing machine wielding an axe than the greatest actor in the world, Nicolas Cage?
Mom & Dad is in cinemas on March 2nd