Nicolas Cage Speaks Out About Starring in Straight-to-VOD Films to Pay Off His Debts: ‘Never Phoned It In’

by Lauren Boisvert

Yes, we’re witnessing what one could call a Nicolas Cage renaissance at the moment. But the enigmatic movie star went through a stretch in recent years where it seemed the only acting jobs he was interested in (or was being offered) were straight-to-VOD films. Why? Well, the man had bills to pay. But he wants everyone to know that he never compromised his commitment to a role solely for a check.

Cage made a name for himself in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Movies like “Raising Arizona” put him on the map, and “National Treasure” introduced him to a new generation of movie-goers. The man even won an Oscar for his performance in “Leaving Las Vegas.” Still, he has problems like everyone else.

“I’ve got all these creditors and the IRS and I’m spending $20,000 a month trying to keep my mother out of a mental institution, and I can’t,” Cage told GQ recently. “It was just all happening at once.” Cage stated that people in his life urged him to file for bankruptcy, but he refused. He instead took on many VOD roles in order to keep his bills at bay. But, while he was starring in lower-budget, not-readily-seen VOD films, he still only took roles that he truly believed in and cared about.

“When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all,” Cage said, wanting to set the record straight. “They didn’t work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like ‘Mandy,’ but some of them didn’t work. But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring.”

Nicolas Cage on Why ‘the Phone Stopped Ringing’

Nicolas Cage recently paid off his debts, only a year and a half ago, after playing a fictionalized version of himself in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” It was a hit at the SXSW Film Festival. Things are looking up for Cage again with a massive Hollywood comeback, but will he keep doing VOD films?

He told GQ about why he started on this journey, and it has to do with the fact that “the phone stopped ringing.” He was honest about it, as well: his big-budget franchise movies like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Ghost Rider” just weren’t cutting it. But, he did share that he’s been enjoying making indie films, even with a star-studded career attached to his name.

“I enjoy making movies like ‘Pig’ and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ more than I enjoy making movies like ‘National Treasure,’” said Cage. “When I talk about fair-weather friends in Hollywood, I’m not talking about [‘National Treasure’ producer] Jerry Bruckheimer. I’m talking about Disney. They’re like an ocean liner. Once they go in a certain direction, you’ve got to get a million tugboats to try and swivel it back around.”