Nicolas Cage is a man of many talents. With an Academy Award, a SAG Award and a Golden Globe, the actor has taken on many different genres over the last four decades, which made him the perfect recipient of the Variety Legend & Groundbreaker Award at Miami Film Festival.
While accepting his award on Sunday night, Cage reflected on the numerous projects he’s worked on — even those that never got made. Although he’s dabbled in the world of superheros, he’s never actually been part of the cinematic universe.
“I’ve gotta be nice about Marvel movies, because I named myself after a Stan Lee character named Luke Cage. What am I going to do, put Marvel movies down? Stan Lee is my surrealistic father. He named me,” he said when asked about the state of superhero movies today. “I understand what the frustration is. I get it. But I think there’s plenty of room for everybody. I’m seeing movies like ‘Tár.’ I’m seeing all kinds of artistic and independently driven movies. I think there’s plenty of room for everybody.”
So, would he want to be in the MCU? His response is easy: “I don’t need to be in the MCU, I’m Nic Cage.”
In the ’90s, he was set to enter the comic book world even more, taking on the titular role in Tim Burton’s “Superman Lives.” However, that never came to light. To this day, he says, he’s not 100% sure why.
“They wanted Renny Harlin to do the movie. I sat down with Renny. I was doing another picture, he came to the trailer and we talked. I liked Renny… but I thought if I’m going to do this, it’s such a bullseye to hit,” Cage explained. “I said, this has to be Tim Burton. I called Tim and said, ‘Would you do this?’ Tim didn’t cast me, I cast Tim, and Tim said yes. I loved what he did with Michael [Keaton] and Batman, and I was a big fan.”
He continued, “I love ‘Mars Attacks.’ I thought ‘Mars Attacks’ was just a fantastic, groundbreaking movie. He’s a groundbreaker! But they were scared at the studio because of ‘Mars Attacks.’ Warner Brothers had lost a lot of money on the movie. These movies that are really weird, that challenge and break ground, they piss a lot of people off. I think they got cold feet. They’d spent a lot of money already building the sets and the costume and what have you. But you never know. I don’t mean to be cryptic Cage, but you never know!”
The actor really enjoyed the character they were building, he explained: “It was more of a 1980s Superman with like, the samurai black long hair. I thought it was gonna be a really different, sort of emo Superman, but we never got there.”
As for the many genres Cage has acted in, two stand out as his most desired.
“My personal favorite is independently spirited family drama,” he shared. “I like movies that take place at home and the struggles we have at home and how we’re trying to either succeed and become better people or succumb to the pressures of the human experience. My other favorite genre, I would say would be horror. Some of the most talented artistic people now are making horror films. I think you can do so much. The reason why science fiction and horror is so important to me is that it gave me a format where I could express some of my more surrealistic and abstract dreams with film performance.”
He added that with science fiction, it also provides a way to say anything you want. “Everybody is very sensitive right now,” Cage explained. “If you look at the science fiction format, you put it on a different planet, you put it in the future, what have you, you can pretty much say what you want, because it’s not right now. Oh, I didn’t I didn’t mean that — it was on a planet called Exeter or something. That’s where it happened. I didn’t mean that! You can get your freedom speech mojo on and do what you want.”