Oscar Actors: Cage, Nicolas–Background, Career, Awards

November 1, 2020
Nicolas Cage Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Nationality: US

Social Class: upper-middle; father prof. of literature

Race/Ethnicity/Religion: Catholic

Family:

Education:

Training:

Teacher/Inspirational Figure: James Dean, East of Eden

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role:

Other Noms:

Other Awards:

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:

Marriage:

Politics:

Death:

Nicolas Kim Coppola (born January 7, 1964), known as Nicolas Cage, is an American actor and filmmaker.

Cage has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

During his early career, Cage starred in a variety of films such as Rumble Fish (1983), Valley Girl (1983), Racing with the Moon (1984), Birdy (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Raising Arizona (1987), Moonstruck (1987), Vampire’s Kiss (1989), Wild at Heart (1990), Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), and Red Rock West (1993).

He found a wider audience when he started starring in mainstream films, such as The Rock (1996), Face/Off (1997), Con Air (1997), City of Angels (1998), National Treasure (2004), Lord of War (2005), Ghost Rider (2007), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) and Knowing (2009).

He earned his second Oscar nomination for his performance as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation (2002). He also directed the film Sonny (2002), for which he was nominated for Grand Special Prize at Deauville Film Festival.

Cage owns the production company Saturn Films and has produced films such as Shadow of the Vampire (2000) and The Life of David Gale (2003).

In October 1997, Cage was ranked No. 40 in Empire magazine’s The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time list, while the next year, he was placed No. 37 in Premiere’s 100 most powerful people in Hollywood.

In the 2010s, he starred in Joe (2013), Dog Eat Dog (2016), Mom and Dad (2017), Mandy (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and Color Out of Space (2019).

Cage was born in Long Beach, California, to August Coppola, a professor of literature, and Joy Vogelsang, a dancer and choreographer.

He was raised in a Catholic family. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of German and Polish ancestry. His paternal grandparents were composer Carmine Coppola and actress Italia Pennino, and his paternal great-grandparents were immigrants from Bernalda, Basilicata. Through his father, he is a nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and of actress Talia Shire, and the cousin of directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola, film producer Gian-Carlo Coppola, and actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman.

Cage’s two brothers are New York radio personality Marc “The Cope” Coppola and director Christopher Coppola. He attended Beverly Hills High School, known for its many alumni who became entertainers. He aspired to act from an early age and also attended UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

His first non-cinematic acting experience was in a school production of Golden Boy.[11] He said he started acting because he “wanted to be James Dean. I saw him in Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden. Nothing affected me—no rock song, no classical music—the way Dean affected me in Eden. It blew my mind. I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do’.”

At 15, he tried to convince his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, to give him a screen test, telling him “I’ll show you acting.” His outburst was met with “silence in the car”.[13] By this stage of his career, Coppola had already directed Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Robert De Niro. To avoid the appearance of nepotism as Coppola’s nephew, he changed his name early in his career to Nicolas Cage, inspired in part by the Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage.[14]

Since his film debut with a minor role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), opposite Judge Reinhold and Sean Penn, Cage has appeared in a wide range of films, both mainstream and offbeat.[14] He auditioned for the role of Dallas Winston in his uncle’s film The Outsiders, based on S.E. Hinton’s novel, but lost to Matt Dillon.  He was also in Coppola’s films Rumble Fish[16] and Peggy Sue Got Married.

Other Cage roles included the acclaimed 1987 romantic-comedy film Moonstruck, also starring Cher;[14] the Coen Brothers cult-classic comedy Raising Arizona;[14] David Lynch’s 1990 film Wild at Heart;[14] a lead role in Martin Scorsese’s 1999 New York City paramedic drama Bringing Out the Dead; and Ridley Scott’s 2003 black comedy crime film Matchstick Men, in which he played a con artist with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Cage has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, winning once for his performance as a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. His other nomination was for his portrayal of real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Kaufman’s fictional twin Donald in Adaptation.[19] Despite these successes, most of his lower-profile films have performed poorly at the box office compared to his mainstream action/adventure roles. The suspense thriller 8mm (1999) is considered a cult film.[20] He took the lead role in the 2001 film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and learned to play the mandolin from scratch for the part.[21][22] He made his directorial debut with 2002’s Sonny. In 2005, two films he headlined, Lord of War and The Weather Man,[23] failed to find a significant audience despite nationwide releases and good reviews for his performances.[24]

The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man was very poorly reviewed, and failed to make back its $40 million budget.[25][26] The much-criticized Ghost Rider (2007), based on the Marvel Comics character, fared better, earning more than $45 million (the top earner) during its opening weekend and over $208 million worldwide through the weekend ending on March 25, 2007.[27] Also in 2007, he starred in Next, which shared the concept of a glimpse into an alternate timeline with Cage’s film,[28] The Family Man (2000).[29]

Most of Cage’s movies that have achieved financial success were in the action/adventure genre. In his second-highest-grossing film to date, National Treasure, he plays an eccentric historian who goes on a dangerous adventure to find treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Other action hits include The Rock, in which Cage plays a young FBI chemical weapons expert who infiltrates Alcatraz Island in the hope of neutralizing a terrorist threat,[31] Face/Off, a John Woo film where he plays both a hero and a villain,[32] and World Trade Center, director Oliver Stone’s film about the September 11 attacks.[33] He had a small but notable role as the Chinese criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu in Rob Zombie’s fake trailer Werewolf Women of the S.S. from the B-movie double feature Grindhouse.

In November 2007, Cage was spotted backstage at a Ring of Honor wrestling show in New York City researching for the lead role for The Wrestler. However, Cage dropped out of production shortly afterward because he felt that he did not have enough time to prepare for the role and director Darren Aronofsky preferred Mickey Rourke for the lead role. Rourke would go on to receive an Academy Award nomination for his performance.[35][36] In an interview with slashfilm.com, Aronofsky said of Cage’s decision to leave the film that “Nic was a complete gentleman, and he understood that my heart was with Mickey and he stepped aside. I have so much respect for Nic Cage as an actor and I think it really could have worked with Nic but … you know, Nic was incredibly supportive of Mickey and he is old friends with Mickey and really wanted to help with this opportunity, so he pulled himself out of the race.”

In 2008, Cage appeared as Joe, a contract killer who undergoes a change of heart while on a work outing in Bangkok, in the film Bangkok Dangerous. The film is shot by the Pang Brothers and has a distinctly South-East Asian flavor.[38] In 2009, Cage starred in the science fiction thriller Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas. In the film, he plays an MIT professor who examines the contents of a time capsule unearthed at his son’s elementary school. Startling predictions found inside the capsule that has already come true lead him to believe that the world is going to end at the close of the week and that he and his son are somehow involved in the destruction.[39] The film received mainly negative reviews but was the box office winner on its opening weekend.[40] Also in 2009, Cage starred in the film The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, directed by acclaimed German director Werner Herzog.[41] He portrayed a corrupt police officer with gambling, drug and alcohol addictions. The film was very well received by critics, holding a rating of 87% positive reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[42] Cage was lauded for his performance, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writing “Herzog has found his ideal interpreter, a performer whose truth lies deep in the artifice of performance: ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage, at his finest.”[43] This film reunited Cage with Eva Mendes, who played his love interest in Ghost Rider.[44] In 2010, Cage starred in the period piece Season of the Witch, playing a 14th-century knight transporting a girl accused of causing the Black Plague to a monastery, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, in which he played the sorcerer.[45]

In 2012, Cage reprised his role in Ghost Rider’s sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

He voiced the character Grug Crood in the animated film The Croods, which was released in 2013. The Croods received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success grossing $585 million against a budget of $135 million.

He starred as main character in The Frozen Ground, a thriller crime drama film directed and written by Scott Walker in his directorial debut, based on the crimes of real-life Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen:[48] The film depicts an Alaskan State Trooper, played by Cage, seeking to apprehend Hansen by partnering with a young woman, who escaped from Hansen’s clutches. The film has received mixed reviews though Cage’s performance was cited as a highlight and solid.

In 2013 he also starred in Joe, an independent crime drama film directed and co-produced by David Gordon Green, adaptation from Larry Brown’s 1991 novel of the same name. In this film Nicolas Cage is a tormented man who hires a 15-year-old boy (played by Tye Sheridan) and protects him from his abusive father. The film premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival on August 30, 2013,[51][52] with a subsequent screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[53] It was a box office flop, grossing only $2.36 million from a $4 million budget, but received critical acclaim from critics, who praised Cage’s performance and Green’s direction.

The 2016 black comedy Dog Eat Dog, Cage’s second film with Paul Schrader, reunited him with Willem Dafoe (after Wild at Heart) as a pair of ex-convicts hired to kidnap a baby.[54] The film had its premiere as the closing entry for the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2016.[55] It was released on November 4, 2016 in the United States.[56] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, writing, “It’s the right director for the right project and the result is Schrader’s best for years: a lairy, nasty, tasty crime thriller built on black-comic chaos.”[57] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “A rare film to have been shot in Cleveland, Dog Eat Dog definitely looks like it was shot on the cheap but puts what it needs to up on the screen with vigor and wit.”[58]

Cage starred alongside Selma Blair and Anne Winters in Brian Taylor’s horror comedy film, Mom and Dad,[59] which premiered in the Midnight Madness section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in theaters on January 19, 2018,[60][61] and received positive reviews from critics, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes defining his performance as “over-the-top.”[62] Director John Waters appreciated the film, naming Mom and Dad as one of the best movies of 2018, placing it fourth on his personal top list.[63]

In 2018, Cage starred in the action thriller film, Mandy,[64] which premiered on January 19 at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[65] Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com praised the movie, writing that “for all of the endless feral performances that Cage has given, in movies good, bad and forgettable, Cosmatos’ style-driven, ’80s-tastic passion for weird worlds and characters takes full advantage of Cage’s greatness, and then some.”[66] In October, Mandy’s producer Elijah Wood announced the intention to sizing up an Oscar campaign for Nicolas Cage and for composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (who died in February of that year)[67] but the film was disqualified because it was also released on VOD[clarification needed] on September 14.

Cage voiced Superman in the animated film Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. He had originally been slated to portray Superman in Tim Burton’s canceled Superman film, Superman Lives, in the 1990s.[72] He also voiced Peter Parker / Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). Cage based his character, a dark and monochromatic alternate version of Peter Parker from a 1930s universe, on the films of Humphrey Bogart, specifically the voices of actors from that era such as James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson.[73]

On January 28, 2019, Viktor and Irina Yelchin premiered a documentary about their son Anton Yelchin, Love, Antosha, at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.[74] The documentary was directed by Garret Price and contains various interviews with some of Anton’s friends and collaborators like Kristen Stewart, J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Jennifer Lawrence, Jodie Foster, John Cho and Martin Landau. Cage starred as the Narrator of the film, reading various Anton’s writings.[75]

In December 2018, it was announced that Cage had signed to play the lead role for Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, based on the short story “The Colour Out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft. [76][77] This was Stanley’s first feature film directed since his firing from The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).[78] Color Out of Space premiered on September 7, 2019 in the Midnight Madness portion of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, where Cage was awarded for his role with the Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative Award.[79][80] Following select preview screenings on January 22, the film was released in 81 theaters in the United States on January 24, 2020.[81]

In November 2019, Cage was cast as a fictionalized version of himself in the comedy-drama The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, co-starring Pedro Pascal and Tiffany Haddish[82][83]. In May 2020 it was announced that Cage would be playing the role of Joe Exotic in a scripted eight-episode Tiger King series, written and executive produced by Dan Lagana.

Cage made his directorial debut in 2002 with Sonny, a low-budget drama starring James Franco as a male prostitute whose mother (Brenda Blethyn) serves as his pimp. Cage had a small role in the film, which received poor reviews and a short run in a limited number of theatres.[14][85] Cage’s producing career includes Shadow of the Vampire, the first effort from Saturn Films.[86]

In early December 2006, Cage announced at the Bahamas International Film Festival that he planned to curtail his future acting endeavors to pursue other interests. On The Dresden Files for the Sci-Fi Channel, Cage is listed as the executive producer.[87]

Other works
Cage, an avid comic book fan, auctioned a collection of 400 vintage comics through Heritage Auctions for over $1.6 million in 2002.[88] In 2007, he created a comic book with his son Weston, called Voodoo Child, which was published by Virgin Comics.[89] Cage is a fan and collector of painter and underground comic artist Robert Williams. He has written introductions for Juxtapoz magazine and purchased the painting Death on the Boards.[90]

Acting style
“In Cage’s hands, cartoonish moments are imbued with real emotion and real emotions become cartoons. Everything – from individual scenes down to single lines of dialogue – feel like they have been embraced as opportunities for creation. Cage is usually interesting even when his films are not. He is erratic and unpredictable; he is captivating and he is capricious. He is a performer. He is a troubadour. He is a jazz musician.”—Luke Buckmaster, The Guardian

In February 2011, Cage said that, at a certain point in his career, he realized that he had developed his own method of acting, which he described as “Nouveau Shamanic.” He noted, “at some point I’ll have to write a book” about it.[92] Cage later explained that he drew the inspiration for the name from the book The Way of the Actor by Brian Bates, in which he read about the parallel between the ancient shamans and thespians.[93] In other interviews, Cage defined his acting style using terms such as German Expressionism[94] or “Western kabuki”.[95]

In some occasions Cage stood up for his extreme method acting. For Birdy, in order to physically feel the pain of his character (a veteran from Vietnam War), Cage removed two teeth without any anesthesia. He also spent five weeks with his face wrapped in bandages, receiving brutal reactions by various people for his aspect. When he took the bandages off, his skin was infected because of acne and ingrowing hairs.[96] Vampire’s Kiss’ casting director Marcia Shulman declared that Cage asked to have hot yogurt poured over his toes to get excited during a love scene with Jennifer Beals.[97] He also studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the UFC champion Royce Gracie, for his roles in action films.[98] During an interview of 2013 for promoting Joe, Cage revealed that he followed a diet based on red meat and steaks to gain weight for the role and to identify himself as a carnivore.[99]

According to The Guardian film critic Luke Buckmaster, “any casual observer can see that Cage is entertaining, charismatic and wildly flamboyant”. Attributing it partly to the “well-cultured” background of Cage’s family, Buckmaster said the actor “is clearly attracted to grotesque characters and is celebrated for his wild and unhinged approach to them. He has the presence of a leading man, and the eccentricities of a character actor.” Actor Ethan Hawke claimed in 2013 that Cage is “the only actor since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything new with the art”, crediting him for taking film audiences “away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours.”[100] The film director David Lynch described him as “the jazz musician of American acting”.[91] Many critics have accused Cage of overacting.[91] Others, including Cage himself, have described his intentionally extreme performances as “mega-acting.”[101][102] After the actor’s series of mainstream-marketed thriller films during the late 1990s, Sean Penn told The New York Times in 1999 that Cage was “no longer an actor” but “more like a performer”.[103] Despite this Penn, after winning the Oscar for his performance in Mystic River, during his speech defined Cage’s work in Matchstick Men as one of the best acting of that year.[104]

During the 2010s, a growing number of film critics have described Cage as one of the most underrated actors of his generation.[105][106][107]

Personal life
Relationships and family
In 1988, Cage began dating actress Christina Fulton, with whom he had a son, Weston Coppola Cage (born December 26, 1990). Weston was the lead singer of the black metal band Eyes of Noctum, which broke up in 2012. Arsh Anubis, his new band of the same genre, was formed in 2011. Weston also appeared in his father’s film Lord of War as Vladimir, a young Ukrainian mechanic who quickly disarms a Mil Mi-24 helicopter. Weston has given Cage two grandsons born in 2014 and 2016.[108]

Cage has been married four times. His first wife was actress Patricia Arquette (married in April 1995, divorce finalized in 2001).[109]

Cage’s second marriage was to singer and songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. Cage is an Elvis fan and used the star as the base of his performance in Wild at Heart. Presley and Cage married on August 10, 2002, and filed for divorce 107 days later on November 25, 2002. The divorce was finalized on May 16, 2004.[110]

Cage’s third wife is Alice Kim. They were married at a private ranch in northern California on July 30, 2004.[111] She gave birth to their son, Kal-El, (after Superman’s birth name) on October 3, 2005.[112] The couple separated in January 2016[113] and finalized their divorce later that year.

In March 2019, Cage married Erika Koike in Las Vegas, only to file for annulment four days later.[114] In June 2019, Cage was granted a divorce from Koike.[115]

Cage grew up in a family of Catholic background, but does not talk about religion publicly and refuses to answer religion-connected questions in his interviews.[5] When asked about the film Knowing being a religion-themed film or not, Cage replied, “Any of my personal beliefs or opinions runs the risk of impinging on your own relationship with the movie. I feel movies are best left enigmatic, left raising more questions than answers. I don’t want to ever preach. So [whatever you get] from the movie [is] far more interesting than [anything] I could ever offer.”

He is not a politically active actor and that he can do it in his work as he learned “more about nuclear power from the movie The China Syndrome”. Cage has endorsed Andrew Yang for president in the 2020 election.[118]

Samuel Levin filed a counter-complaint and responded to the lawsuit in a filing stating that he warned Cage that he was living beyond his means and urged him to spend less. Levin’s filing states that “instead of listening to Levin, cross-defendant Cage (Coppola) spent most of his free time shopping for high ticket purchases, and wound up with 15 personal residences.” Levin’s complaint continued: “Likewise, Levin advised Coppola against buying a Gulfstream jet, against buying and owning a flotilla of yachts, against buying and owning a squadron of Rolls Royces, against buying millions of dollars in jewelry and art.”[139] In his filing, Levin says that in 2007, Cage’s “shopping spree entailed the purchase of three additional residences at a total cost of more than $33 million; the purchase of 22 automobiles (including 9 Rolls Royces); 12 purchases of expensive jewelry; and 47 purchases of artwork and exotic items.” One of those items was a dinosaur skull of a Tarbosaurus; after discovering that it was stolen, he has since returned it to the Mongolian authorities.

According to Cage, he owned the “Most Haunted House in America,” a home located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Known as “The LaLaurie House” after its former owner Delphine LaLaurie, the house was foreclosed and sold at auction on November 12, 2009, along with another New Orleans property for a total of $5.5 million, in the wake of Cage’s financial problems.[142] His Bel Air home, which had six loans totaling $18 million on it, failed to sell at an April 2010 foreclosure auction despite an opening offer of $10.4 million, substantially less than the $35 million that Cage had originally tried to sell it for. The home, built in 1940 for $110,000, had been owned at different times by Dean Martin and singer Tom Jones.[143] The home eventually sold in November 2010 for $10.5 million.[144] Another home in Nevada also faces foreclosure auction.[142] In November 2011, Cage also sold his Action Comics #1 in an online auction for a record-breaking $2.16 million (the previous record being $1.5 million), to assist paying his tax liens and other debts. Cage purchased the comic in 1997 for $110,000.[145] Now worth around $25 million (as of May 2017), Cage is reportedly “taking [film] roles left and right” in order to pay off his remaining debts.

Cage was arrested in New Orleans’ French Quarter district on April 15, 2011 for suspicion of domestic abuse battery, disturbing the peace and public intoxication. A police officer was flagged down by onlookers after Cage allegedly grabbed his wife’s upper arm while appearing to be under the influence of alcohol. Cage was held in police custody until a bail of $11,000 was posted by Duane “Dog” Chapman.[153] He was later ordered to appear in court on May 31, 2011. The New Orleans District Attorney announced that the charges against Cage had been dropped on May 5, 2011.

For his contributions to the film industry, Cage was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998 with a motion pictures star located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard.[157][158] In May 2001, Cage was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University, Fullerton. He spoke at the commencement ceremony.

Cage has also been nominated for an Academy Award twice. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. He was nominated for a second one for his role in the film Adaptation in 2002.

He also won a Golden Globe award, Screen Actors Guild award and many more awards for Leaving Las Vegas. He has received nominations by the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA for his films Adaptation, Honeymoon in Vegas and Moonstruck.