What else can you say about Nic Cage? One of Hollywood's most recognizable faces over the last 20 years, the man has undoubtedly had a career full of hits and despite a few questionable choices over the last few years, there's no doubt that the man is marquee money. Now he seems to be right at home starring in the gritty, balls-to-the-wall revenge flick, Drive Angry.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Nic Cage on one hot evening last May while Drive Angry was wrapping up filming in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was a real thrill and Nic came off friendly. knowledgeable, and pretty damn cool. Read on to find out the thoughts of the man everyone on set called 'a genuine Bad-ass'.
We heard you jumped right into this project when you got pitched the script and everything.
Cage: Yeah, well I read the script and they said thatÖwhen I read it my eye was going to be shot out and I remember on a movie called ďSeason of the WitchĒ I wanted them to shoot my eye out with an arrow. And the producers didnít go for that, so when it was handed to me in this movie that they were going to shoot my eye out with a gun I thought, "yeah Iím going to make that movie."
Can you talk a little bit aboutÖitís a hard R movie. Thereís a lot of violence. Is that something that attracted you to the role or was it somethingÖdid it make you a little nervous?
Cage: Well I do tend to apply myself to projects that make me uncomfortable because usually when that happens I try to find a way of existing in the project that is more creative. So that I can do something with the material that compels me to go in a new direction. I had been making a lot of family oriented movies, which I also like. But I still have a passion for the midnight audience and for midnight movies and I felt that this was as good a chance to make a midnight movie as any, so thatís why I jumped in.
Whatís the most uncomfortable thing about this character?
Cage: Well, thereís the level of killing. You know, heís not really aÖitís more like a force from another dimension. Itís almost like karma on some level. Itís not really aÖitís almost more than human like a ghost on a vengeful tear. Like karma. I see him as a protector of children when something horrific is about to happen to children, he is awakened from the abyss and I like characters that have supernatural aspects to them because I feel like you can do more with them. Thereís an infinite number of possibilities when youíre dealing with the infinite.
Thereís a lot of references to 70ís car movies, chase movies. Is there a character based reference for you that you go back to at all?
Cage: Well I tried to instill as much of those memories that I had from the 70ís films with Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. And there were a couple of moves that Charles Bronson had like in Death Wish that I was trying to bring back for this. And then you have the element of the automobile as well. Thereís so many different sides to this one because it is a car movie but it also has the action of an old Charles Bronson movie and then you add the supernatural component to it and on top of that you have 3D, so itís not like anything else that Iíve done before or really seen before. Iím very excited about what can emerge from this. Iím trying to mess with the format - meaning like what can I do with 3D as a film actor. How can I move differently or I was talking about sticking my tongue out and seeing it would go into the 4th row of the audience and if thereís anything I can do to play with the format.
Do you watch the dailies?
Cage: No. I donít. I look at playback on-set and I put the 3D glasses on and if I feel like we have it then we move on. Once itís gone to dailies after work, I donít think thereís really anything you can do about it, you know? Itís too late. So with the invention of video playback you can get a lot done very quickly and you can make any adjustments that need to be made while youíre filming it.
When you have a character whoís motivated by revenge, are you non-stop angry or do you have a moment to catch your breath and think things out?
Cage: Yeah, you know Milton to meÖIíll talk very little about it because I want you to have your own relationship with it, so itís like if you see him as being angry so be it, but I think itís almost like he doesnít really fit into the physics of normal human emotion. I would think a little more like High Plains Drifter that way where youíre not exactly sure where heís at. Itís not just straight-up anger so much. Heís coming from another dimension thatís not of this earth.
Billy was saying that pretty much everyone in this movie is kind of a bad guy. You know, Billyís just the worst bad guy. Is that how you see it as well?
Cage: Well, heísÖyeah, I mean heís certainly the worst bad guy in terms of people. But what William Fichtnerís going on is also deliciously bad but itís a different kind of bad. Itís more like from when Iím watching him itís like an imp thatís been released or a leprechaun or something. Heíll describe it in his own way butÖand then Milton, to me, is certainly villainous but, again, he doesnít fit into normal human behavior or emotion. Itís more like a ghost, you know?
But he does build relationships like with Amberís character.
You guys have a relationship.
Cage: Yeah. But even that relationship is a little bit mysterious. Sheís chosen for a certain very specific reason that I donít know if I want to give away, but he chose her and the relationship isnít a romantic one at all. Itís more of like a partnership.
Thereís a lot of classic cars in this and weíve heard that you do a lot of your own driving. Was that something that you almost wanted to put in your contract like I want to do this kind of driving orÖ
Cage: No, well I worked with Johnny Martin before on Gone in 60 Seconds so he knew what I was capable of doing and he was very comfortable with me driving in the cars and so it was just a natural flow that happened and it didnít take a lot of thought or a lot of rehearsing.
You mentioned briefly about the 3D element of the movie. Now as an actor, you said it makes you think a little bit differently. But do you find it at all invas ive or intrusive to the normal acting process?
Cage: No. On the contrary I find it inspiring and I always think when Iím working on something new, whether itís a new kind of character or a new kind of story or new kind of camera anything new, in this case certainly the 3D is one of the new elements, but it is exciting for me because again, it gets my creative wheels spinning. Like what can I do with that? How can I play with that format? And certainly the first thing I did when I arrived on the set on the first day was just I really wanted to look at the camera and see was there something different about it. Was there somethingÖhow was I going to make friends with this camera? What information was it going to receive from me and how would I move differently? And I found very quickly that itís just not much different that a normal 35mm camera or whatever the millimeter is on this, but it justÖsome moves can make an impact. Some moves can make a difference and if you think about it and Iíll discuss it with Patrick how can I get into the audience with my body language. Weíll go over it, rehearse it and then shoot it. And then sometimes thereís happy accidents. Like we did this one shot where I was cocking the shotgun and the shell just happened to fly out into the lens of the camera in such a way that it was magical for the 3D format. But of course that wasnít rehearsed at all. So itís always exciting when you can go into a mode where you can be both spontaneous and choreographed. Sort of in control and out of control at the same time.
Do you have to exaggerate some motions?
Cage: Well thatís what I was thinking when I was trying to stick my tongue out into the audience. I was really trying to exaggerate it, but I donít know if theyíre going to go with that or not. Might be a little too much too soon.
Can you talk about your reaction to the gun? We saw the gun and it looks prettyÖ.
Cage: *SPOILERS HERE..SORRY!*
Cage: I thought it was beautifully designed. I think it looks mysterious, which I like. And Iím excited about this gag weíre doing tonight because itís all built on the recoil of the gun where theyíre going to slide me back on a wire after I shoot it so you see the power of the weapon. Iíve never done anything like that before.
Cage: All right, guys. Well, nice to meet you all.