It’s ironic that Nicolas Cage, who has spent over 40 years in cinema, won an Oscar Award for his bravura performance in Leaving Las Vegas—because he has now been living on the outskirts of Sin City since 2006.
He says moving to Vegas saved him from the traps of Hollywood. Cage, who presently stars in The Old Way a classic Western, has appeared in about 120 movies, which is just mind-boggling. The busy actor gives us some advice and insights into Hollywood and his longevity.
I try to find something that makes me stand out like an item of clothing or a hairstyle. Remember how James Dean stood out in Rebel Without A Cause, well I learned from being fascinated by him in that red jacket he wore. It was like his unique emblem. For me, once you find that one piece of clothing from the wardrobe that the audience can identify with, it becomes your signature and you stick with it.
I worked with Sean Connery on The Rock together, and he did give me some invaluable advice, saying that “You’ve got to know how to enter a room. So, when you enter, they take notice of you.” And when it comes down to it, it really is about your entrance and exit, in work and in life.
I found auditions painful when I first started out. Fortunately, today, you have the option of using smart technology. So, my advice today is to shoot a video and frame it to make it look even better. Like putting a Masters painting, a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh in a frame and it’s amazing, right?! I’ve found that if you put a frame around your audition performance, it enhances the impact of your performance.
Yes, The Cage part comes from that great avant-garde composer I always admired. That name spoke more to who I was and am. But going back, I was still credited as Nicholas Coppola when I had a small part in a movie called Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982 but I think I got mostly cut out. As Coppola, people would refer to all sorts of quirky things, like quotes from my uncle Francis’ movies like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. And I thought I didn’t need that, I wanted my own identity.
There’s a Latin term called “genius loci” which is like the spirit of the place. I love going to exotic and unique places, and picking up on the character or special atmosphere of a location. Each place has its own genius loci and that inspires the work, like the magic of the crisp wind in the Pacific Northwest.
Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.