HomeEntertainmentNicolas Cage Remembers How His First Job Helped Him Through ‘Difficult Periods’

Nicolas Cage Remembers How His First Job Helped Him Through ‘Difficult Periods’

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Robert Marquardt/Getty Images)

Nicolas Cage’s career is filled with very high highs and quite low lows. The Oscar-winning actor is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, but his over-the-top person hems him in. He’s leaning into that in his new movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

Nicolas Cage spent much of the last decade in a low period. He starred in nearly 40 movies during that span, most of them direct-to-DVD or streaming dreck. Even though he was once one of the most bankable stars in the business. He led the National Treasure franchise, The Rock, Face/Off, and Con Air to major wins and big paydays. But he blew his $150 million fortune on what most would consider insane things. He bought a dinosaur skull, islands (yes, plural), castles (again, multiples), a haunted house, a pyramid tomb, and so much more.

Cage wound up with a $6 million tax lien that he needed to pay. He sued his former financial manager for steering him “down a path toward financial ruin,” CNN reported in 2009.

So, when Cage’s on-screen antics wore thin with audiences and critics, major studios stopped calling. He needed and wanted to keep working, so he took whatever came his way. Through it all, Cage told the L.A. Times, he never lost his love of movies.

“I used to work at the Fairfax Cinema on Beverly, selling tickets and popcorn,” Cage said. “It was my first job. I was 15, and all I cared about was cinema. I wanted to be in movies. Cinema had always been a friend to me as a child. It helped me through different difficult periods. So, working at the Fairfax, in between whatever I had to do, I would just stand in the back of the theater and dream.”

Nicolas Cage Says His Comeback Is Like Muhammad Ali

It’s no secret that Nicolas Cage is a talented actor, though comics and critics sometimes ding him for his unhinged performances. He reminded everyone of that recently with a phenomenal turn in Pig, which has a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The trailer for that movie seemed to lean into the Nicolas Cage thing when it opens with the gravely voiced actor laying out the film’s overarching plot: “I’m looking for a truffle pig.”

Cage’s new movie embraces his public persona. In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage. Cage, the character, is a middling movie star forced to take a $1 million payday to attend a super fan’s birthday party. There’s a CIA plot and a second Nic Cage, his alter ego Nicky Cage, causing problems along the way.

The movie completes the Nicolas Cage circle. He worried about playing caricatures of himself, but he signed on because the man understands good storytelling.

“I was very trepidatious to do it because I’m playing two heightened versions of myself,” Cage told the Times. “But then I realized, everything that’s happened to me led up to this movie, whether I was hot or cold, up or down … there’s an arc to the story. Not that I’m comparing myself to Muhammad Ali, but I like it that he lost to Joe Frazier and then went back, fought him again, and won. That gives it a pathos and a dramatic arc.”