|Exclusive Nicolas Cage Webchat |
The Ghost Rider himself answers your questions...
Nic Cage is the man that brought us The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Kick-Ass, and, as they say, many, many more. So it was a great honour having him round the Empire office for a webchat - where he was posed such important questions as "Would you like to appear in Expendables 3?", "What's the best line you've ever said on screen?" and, perhaps most importantly of all, "What's your favourite sandwich?" Check out all his answers to all your questions here below, and just in case you were wondering, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance is out on February 17.
snake-eyes says: After winning the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, was it a conscious decision on your part to dive into action cinema with what I refer to as the 'Cage Action Trilogy' of The Rock, Con Air and Face / Off? All great films by the way!
Thank you, and yes it was a conscious decision to do what was unexpected.
blunderwoman says: Hello Mr. Cage. My friends and I hold a bi-monthly 'Cage-Fest', which is dinner, drinks and a triple bill of your movies. We would be honoured if you could recommend three of your finest for the next one which is in a fortnights time. Also, you are very welcome to join us...
Thank you very much for the invite, it sounds like fun. I think the best way to have a trilogy of movies is to find ones that are diverse and provide a kind of counterpoint, so I would go Adaptation, Con Air and Bad Lieutenant.
dylanisis says: In a Q&A for your amazing directorial debut Sonny, you mentioned you wanted to make a movie with Roger Corman directing and using vintage sets, costumes, effects etc. – will this ever happen?
I really hope so; I had a lovely meeting with roger in New Orleans and I expressed my total admiration for him and movies like Masque Of The Red Death and all of the Edgar Allan Poe stories he has brought to cinema, and wanted to find a way to shoot a movie in the same style because of my dream to star in one of those early Corman classics. How could we do it? Could we get the same fog machines? The same blood that would photograph the same colour; the same costumes, the same sets? We talked about it and he was excited about it, but we haven't found the money yet to make the movie. I have the script however.
philaiston says: Hi Nic, how did you prepare for your role in Matchstick Men? It must have been a tough process, especially to do it as well as you did.
Thank you. It was something that I had been thinking about adding to a performance, which is a sort of Tourette’s syndrome spectrum of behaviour. Some people that I know had struggles with it, and I wanted to say something about it. It wasn't in the script; the script was about obsessive compulsive disorder. I added the tic spectrum because that would provide interesting behaviour, to me. But I did it with love; I didn't want to do it in a way that would seem like a comical insulting portrayal of it. I want wanted it to seem like a loving portrayal of someone who was having a hard time with it.
Roxanne says: What were the biggest challenges physically or psychologically to perform both parts of John Blaze and Ghost Rider?
It was the first time that I played Ghost Rider. Blaze was easy; I knew he was a man who had been living with a curse for eight years of having his head light on fire, and the tone that would take. I compared him to a cop, or a paramedic who develops a dark sense of humour to cope with the horrors he has seen. But Blaze has also caused the horrors, so he's hiding out because he doesn't want to hurt anyone else.
Ghost Rider was an entirely new experience, and he got me thinking about something I read in a book called The Way Of Wyrd by Brian Bates, and he also wrote a book called The Way Of The Actor. He put forth the concept that all actors, whether they know it or not, stem from thousands of years ago – pre-Christian times – when they were the medicine men or shamans of the village. And these shamans, who by today's standards would be considered psychotic, were actually going into flights of the imagination and locating answers to problems within the village. They would use masks or rocks or some sort of magical object that had power to it.
It occurred to me, because I was doing a character as far out of our reference point as the spirit of vengeance, I could use these techniques. I would paint my face with black and white make up to look like a Afro-Caribbean icon called Baron Samedi, or an Afro-New Orleans icon who is also called Baron Saturday. He is a spirit of death but he loves children; he's very lustful, so he's a conflict in forces. And I would put black contact lenses in my eyes so that you could see no white and no pupil, so I would look more like a skull or a white shark on attack.
On my costume, my leather jacket, I would sew in ancient, thousands-of-years-old Egyptian relics, and gather bits of tourmaline and onyx and would stuff them in my pockets to gather these energies together and shock my imagination into believing that I was augmented in some way by them, or in contact with ancient ghosts. I would walk on the set looking like this, loaded with all these magical trinkets, and I wouldn't say a word to my co-stars or crew or directors. I saw the fear in their eyes, and it was like oxygen to a forest fire. I believed I was the Ghost Rider.
Essjai says: You’ve worked with a range of directors, who do you feel has gotten the most out of you as an actor?
I think that Mike Figgis and David Lynch, because of my Ghost Rider experience, Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine, John Woo, and Werner Herzog. Probably Martin Scorsese in Bringing Out The Dead and Martha Coolidge for what she gave me in Valley Girl. She helped me believe in myself.
Big_Pants says: Whose idea was it for you to channel the great Adam West as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass? It's by far one of my favourite performances in a comic book movie.
Thank you. It was an idea that came to me when Matthew Vaughn showed me the belt that he wanted me to wear as Damon, as Big Daddy. I had the choice between an all-solid black belt, or a black belt with yellow pockets, which looked very much like the early Batman utility belt from the 60s, and it occurred to me, why stop there? Why not have Damon so crazy in his vigilante mode that he takes inspiration from Adam West's portrayal in the ‘60s Batman TV show? That if he can speak like him, he will be able to achieve his vengeance along with his other skills.
TCB says: You’ve said Wild At Heart was the kind of movie you wished Elvis had made, which led to Sailor channeling Elvis. Are there any other types of movies you wish Elvis had done instead of all those musicals?
My feeling about Elvis is that he was a very good actor with great comedic charm, and that he would have worked well in Wild At Heart, but Wild At Heart was more my "Andy Warhol performance" than my Elvis performance, and what I mean by that is that – and I have to go back to a book by Stanislavsky called An Actor Prepares here – where he put forth the rule that you must never imitate anybody while acting, which I understand, but rules are made to be broken.
And I wanted to put this to the test. So I thought about Andy Warhol, and how he in his art would take pop icons and make poster art pieces with these famous faces. Having also been a believer in art synthesis - in other words, what you can do in one form, you can do in another – and I was excited by the idea of breaking Stanislavsky's rule and give an Andy Warhol performance by overlaying Elvis's aura on the film Wild At Heart. The way I can realise my film acting dreams of abstract expression is by finding characters that are flawed in some way that will provide a context where that expression still works: for example, Ghost Rider is a demon, a fallen angel. Blaze feels the pain of the transformation.
That pain provides a context where I can be very abstract in my vocalisation and my movements. Bad Lieutenant, I play a cop who's high on drugs. Those drugs are why he can be so extreme in the portrayal. These ideas are not always popular with critics, but there is a school of though that says if you piss the critics off, you're probably doing something right - and all of my heroes, whether it be in music or painting or cinema, have pissed the critics off.
ABCD says: You've delivered some amazing lines over the years -- a bunny in a box springs to mind -- do you have any favourites?
There's a movie I made with my brother called Deadfall, where I say, "Vive la fucking France, man!" That's one of my favourites.
Quentin_Cappucino says: Hi Nic, huge fan. Is it true that you camped in a haunted forest while making Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance? If so, that is ridiculously cool!
I went to the Bermuda Triangle of forests, known as the Hoia-Baciu Forest, and I went for a drive through the forest and saw a man who was just walking amongst the trees, and I asked him a question, I rolled down the window and said, "Do you live here?" He said yes. I said, "Is this forest haunted?" He didn't answer for about a minute, he just looked at me and said, "Yes". I said, "By what?" and he said, "Have you seen the floating people with no legs?" I said, "Not yet, but I hope to real soon." Then I asked him if it was OK for me to take a fallen branch, so I grabbed a branch that was about six feet in length and four inches wide, and I took it home to my little cottage in England and I chipped away at it and varnished it and made a nice staff out of it. I'm probably the only person in Glastonbury with a Hoia-Baciu staff.
RobbieWilk says: Hi Mr. Nicolas Cage, you turned on the Christmas lights in Bath a while back. You obviously like the city a lot, and stay there a fair bit. Would you ever like to film there?
Yes. I would like to film there, if only because I’m happy there and because it would be a beautiful backdrop to a story, as Jane Austen has proven.
Sean Twomey says: You're very dedicated to the characters you play. Of all the roles you've portrayed what was the most taxing mentally and would you ever go to those lengths again?
I think that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was mentally taxing, if only because I had to go to a Christmas party shortly after I had wrapped photography in Romania at two in the morning as the Ghost Rider. The invitation had a Christmas ornament on it with Ghost Rider's face on it as a tree. I
had a couple of schnapps and went to the party; I had not entirely let go of whatever magic I had been channeling, and all hell broke lose. In fact, I think I kept saying over and over, “Merry Christmas you assholes!” I am lucky I'm not in a Romanian prison.
kathen says: Hi Mr. Cage, just wondering... What is your favourite sandwich?
The roast lamb sandwich with white bread and a bit of mayonnaise and arugula, thinly sliced. You can get it at Muso & Frank's Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, and it's our oldest grill; it's been around since 1917. If you like pancakes, they have good flannel cakes there, which are thin pancakes, kind of like a crepe.
dylanisis says: Was there any truth you were courted to be in The Expendables 2?
I know only what you know about it. There wasn't much discussion related to that.
philblakeman says: Is there any character you'd like to revisit? Do you ever wonder what happened next to Stanley Goodspeed or Cameron Poe?
I would like to hook up with one of the great Japanese filmmakers, like the master that made Ringu, and I would like to take The Wicker Man to Japan, except this time he's a ghost.
Dan P says: Hey Nic, I've heard you're working with Charlie Kaufman again. After Adaptation (my favourite movie ever and favourite performance of yours) What drew you back to the Kaufman material?
I thought, and this is only if it really happens and I hope it does, I don't know how much of this I can talk about because Charlie is quite private about these things and I don't want to upset him. But I have a concept for the part he sees me in and I haven't discussed it with him yet. That's what's drawing me in. I'm sorry to be so cryptic but I can't talk about it yet.
Olishuter says: I loved the National Treasure films – is there any news of doing a National Treasure 3, if so, would you like to do another one and where?
I would, but I have not heard any news about a third one at this time, and it would be interesting to take National Treasure into South America.
Jess says: You've done so many films, have you ever or would you consider doing theatre?
I would consider doing theatre, but predominantly my interests are cinema-related.
Drobe81 says: Hi Nic, would you ever consider a role in The Expendables 3, if Sly was to ask?
I would read anything that Sly had me in mind for.
Stack says: I'm going to a fancy dress party as Nicolas Cage. Which of your characters should I go as?
xwingcrossing says: I love the way that you embody the characters that you play on screen, and where you get the inspiration to pay said characters. As a massive Vampire's Kiss fan, I am curious to find out where you got the inspiration to play Peter Loew?
God bless my father, but he always spoke in this continental, literary accent, probably because he was a professor of comparative literature and he made the decision to speak with distinction. I never understood that growing up with him, but I always thought it sounded a bit humorous, so when I played a literary agent, it was my homage to my father's manner of speaking. On top of that, I was inspired by Max Schreck's performance in the original Nosferatu and I was trying to find a way of playing a modern man who succumbs to his psychosis which manifests in my being able to play Max Schreck in Nosferatu.
|Cage's Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas|
dgribble says: In Leaving Las Vegas, I’ve always been curious about how you managed to get your voice to sound exactly like a habitual alcoholic’s? It genuinely sounded like you’d been drinking your whole life!
Well, I saw three movies. One was Days Of Wine And Roses. One was Dudley Moore in Arthur. One was Albert Finney in Under The Volcano. When I saw Albert Finney, I had no doubt within two minutes that he was really drunk in the movie and that performance was a man who was really succumbing to the effects of alcohol. I think I was really inspired by his performance and that sound, and that may have had some effect on it.
terrence green says: I’m sure you have turned down films in the past, but is there one that you have thought "Damn, I wish I took it…"?
The only reason why I tend to pass on a movie is either I don't think I'm right for the material and can't play it honestly, or because of time constraints with personal things in my life. There were two movies that asked me to go to Australia or New Zealand for long periods of time. One was Lord Of The Rings and one was the Matrix. But I was actively involved at that time raising my family and I couldn't really take that time out.
cal_trask says: Are you still penning a book about your acting technique Nouveau Shamanic?
I am not currently writing a book about that. I'm at work on something else. I was invited to go to Ireland to have a Q&A with a group of thespians about this concept, but the truth is, like Brian Bates said, everybody who's an actor is already there; they just don't know it yet. This style, if you will, or programme, is really teaching how not to act, and how to utilise your dreams, power objects, even taking weekends to experiment with imagination and finding ways of infusing your performances with those experiences so that it's no longer acting but truth. Acting implies lying in some way - Olivier said as much in his autobiography, and I don't want to lie. Thankfully Sean Penn said that Nicolas Cage is no longer an actor, and that's what I want. I want to find a way to make it more truthful. This style is stimulating your imagination to be more truthful in the words and the movements.
I would like to say thanks to all of you Empire readers for spending a little time with me today, and thank you for watching!