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Dinosaur skull, home cobras and the search for the Grail: the main thing from an unusual interview with Nicolas Cage

Why sew an Egyptian artifact into a jacket to play the Ghost Rider.


On August 7, Nicolas Cage gave a great interview to The New York Times journalist David Marchese. The actor shared a lot of information about his life, career and approach to acting – including some rather unexpected ones. They chose the most interesting of his words.

About drugs and animals

I am one hundred percent against drugs, I do not use them. I do not drink at work. Sometimes I drink between shots, but not all the time. I play so many characters and get used to the role in such a way that sometimes, when I’m not acting, I use wine and alcohol as an “eraser”. I erase the old character and make room in order to start creating a new one.

Once, a friend of mine gave me a packet of [hallucinogenic] mushrooms, and my cat climbed right into the refrigerator and took it out, as if he knew what it was. He really liked them. Then I thought: “Perhaps I will do it.” It was a wonderful and peaceful experience.

Two royal cobras lived at my place, and they were not in a good mood. They tried to hypnotize me, and then pounce. After I told this story on the show at Letterman, the neighbors were indignant that I kept cobras at home, and I passed them to the zoo.

Cobras definitely influenced my acting. They tried to mesmerize me, swaying from side to side, and in “Ghost Rider 2” my character does the same before attacking.

Animals are a great source of inspiration. I think Heath Ledger, playing the Joker, borrowed something from reptiles – he constantly protruded and cleaned his tongue.

About the “experiments” on the set

My job as an actor is to realize the vision of the director. If I do something that the director does not agree with, I stop it.

At the beginning of my career, I had such conflicts. For example, during the filming of “Arizona Education” we had a misunderstanding. But the Cohen brothers were fine-tuned, they did not mind that I was trying to be like Woody Woodpecker. I even met with them some kind of understanding.

Lawrence Olivier said: “Acting is a hoax, and a good hoax should be convincing.” I relate to acting differently: why not experiment?

Sometimes I deliberately “prank”. In Wicker Man, I just played with this situation because it is absurd. Initially, I wanted them to burn me in a bear costume – then all this farce would turn out to be even more frightening.

For an actor to say “I want to try something else” means to embark on a difficult path. You can’t be afraid that people don’t understand you.

I knew that my “cartoony” game in Parenting Arizona would work well. Vampire’s Kiss is a more controversial film, but I am pleased with these results. I took a chance.

My “barometer” quite clearly shows me when I play well. Therefore, I can tell you without false modesty that now I am at the peak of my form – because lately I practiced a lot.

About Nouveau Shamanic

Nouveau Shamanic – authoring technique developed by Cage –

Nouveau Shamanic is nothing more than an attempt to expand your imagination to play a character, without feeling that it is not real. Writer Brian Bates, in his book The Way of Wyrd, claims that the actors came from ancient shamans. And I added the word nouveau to sound more elaborate.

Suppose you play a biker obsessed with an ancient spirit. What “objects of power” can deceive your imagination? Maybe you find an artifact in the ancient pyramid? Perhaps it will be a small greenish sarcophagus, similar to Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus? Maybe you will sew it into your jacket, and you will know that he is next to you, every time the director says “motor”? Can you open up to this power? Yes, these are not rhetorical questions – I really did.

There are other ways. What poem do you like? You can write it down on paper by hand, roll it up and put it in your pocket. A “hook” does not have to be anything particularly expensive.

About Productivity

I act in so many films because I want to be like my idols from the golden era of cinema – they all starred in fifty films.

I grew up in the 70s and watched Rock Hudson in McMillan and Wife, Dennis Weaver in McCloud, Charles Bronson in the weekly movie, Peter Falk in Colombo. I have established relationships with these actors and characters; the more often I saw them, the more I wanted to see them.

It seemed to me that if I starred in more films, this would allow people to turn on the TV and ask: “What is the next movie with Nick?” They will have a large selection.

Of course, money is also a factor. There is no point in cunning. Sometimes this factor affects my decisions more, sometimes less. But even if the movie in which I play is not perfect, I always need to be sure that I provide the audience with something interesting.

About spending

There are good and bad investments. Good ones are when I buy something, guided by a sincere interest in history. For example, I bought the first issue of Action Comics for $ 150,000. Then they stole it, I returned it and sold it for two million. But I was pleased to have it, because I had a sincere interest in this topic.

But the dinosaur skull turned out to be a bad buy. I spent 276 thousand dollars on it at a legal auction, and then it turned out that he was illegally taken out of Mongolia, and I had to give it back. Of course, he had to be returned, but who knew? I never received any money back.

Oddly enough, my condition was ruined by the fact that I was constantly buying real estate, and not at all any purchases like dried heads, as the press presents.

As a result of financial errors and falling real estate prices, my condition was almost destroyed. But I did not file for bankruptcy: I have pride, and I wanted to break through all the difficulties myself.

About the search for the Holy Grail

I spent several years just meditating three times a day and reading books on philosophy. During this period, I almost went looking for the Holy Grail. I studied mythology and looked for something that could be connected with it. Like in the Treasure of the Nation.

One clue led to another. It was as if I were collecting a library: you read one book, it has a link to another; you buy this book and bind everything together. For me, the main question was: where is the Grail? Here? There? In Glastonbury? Does he exist?

I searched in different places, mainly in England, but also in the USA. As a result, I came to the following conclusion: what is the Grail, if not the Earth itself?

About privacy

I am not on social networks. Neither on Instagram, nor on Facebook, nor on Twitter. I am a closed person and do not want my personal life to be in sight. I wanted to be like the stars of the past, who always had such a mysterious aura. Now it’s difficult.

I do not want to go anywhere. I want to look at my aquarium, read Murakami, watch Bergman films.

About the role of dreams

I dream to play captain Nemo. My first love was the ocean. I read “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne – it said that Captain Nemo was also in love with the ocean. He was free, lived in a submarine palace and played the organ. In my opinion, this is a wonderful life.


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