In Defense Of: Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage has been entertaining us for nearly 30 years now and I have always considered him as one of my favorite actors. I had always enjoyed his work, but it was not until I saw him in the 1987 comedy masterpiece RAISING ARIZONA, directed by the amazing Coen Brothers (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, TRUE GRIT), that I thought to myself that he was a truly amazing and talented actor. His character of H.I. McDunnough is arguably the best character in any movie to me and is a huge inspiration for myself as a comedian. A lot of people don’t see Cage as a comedian yet he is still one of my main influences. But how can this be? The answer is quite simple; the man has true range and the ability to become the characters he portrays no matter the role. He is a wonderful character actor and I find myself eagerly awaiting his next role to see what new and unusual character choices he commits to next.
Nicolas Cage seems to always set his own bar when it comes to the quality of his characters. To be honest I think he set the bar quite high for himself with performances in classics such as RAISING ARIZONA and LEAVING LAS VEGAS just to name a few. Cage takes on so many roles and challenges himself with so many characters that I think his truly amazing performances in movies such as ADAPTATION, THE WEATHER MAN, MATCHSTICK MEN, and THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF NEW ORLEANS often get overlooked and lost in the shuffle. It’s almost like he is always competing with himself to make the best movie he can and during that experience he likes to change and diversify his roles to see what happens. I truly admire the risks and chances Cage takes playing these interesting and unusual characters.
I am an avid moviegoer and I have to admit that action movies are among my most enjoyed. Sometimes I want to go to the theatre and just see people kick ass, watch things blow up, and have some damn fun without that pesky good narrative and deep character development to worry about. This is the type of move I love seeing Cage in because he IS a complete bad ass and he is not below making a movie for fun instead of always striving to be an award winner. My first brush with Cage as a complete bad ass was in 1996’s THE ROCK directed by explosion master Michael Bay (TRANSFORMERS Series, THE ISLAND). In case that was not enough to cement himself as a bad ass, he followed up THE ROCK with CON AIR and FACE/OFF. Those movies combined are three of the most bad ass movies out there and they ALL star Cage. Besides those movies, I had a complete nerdgasm after seeing Cage in KICK-ASS where he successfully blended the mentality of his comically eccentric RAISING ARIZONA character with all the other bad ass characters he’s played into one! That was so fun to see as a lifelong Cage fan and comic book nerd! Thank you for that!
Cage has been involved with such a wide variety of movies that I think people often get confused as to what we can expect from him. Granted he plays the unusual, eccentric, and kooky character often and without fail, but that does not mean that’s all we should expect from him. It seems like when Cage tries something new people just shut him down and make fun of him instead of realizing that he is trying something different and personally challenging himself. He’s like the nerdy kid at school who stays true to himself and gets picked on and beat up by the “cool kids” who think he’s just too different. I acknowledge his commitment and appreciate his momentum as an entertainer and artist.
It’s so easy to bash an actor after watching them, but it blows my mind that people rarely try and note the merits of a performance and actually give credit to someone for doing what they love. One example is Cage’s role as Johnny Blaze in 2007’s GHOST RIDER. A lot of people just made fun of this movie instead of enjoying it for the fun action blockbuster that it aimed to be. I mean seriously people, what do you want out of a GHOST RIDER movie other than having an awesome lead known for being perfectly eccentric, some awesome special effects, crazy action, and a bit of cheese. It was all good fun and Cage committed to his role as Blaze wonderfully. If you don’t believe me just watch as Blaze transforms into GHOST RIDER for the first time in the clip below. Watch as you see the pain of the transformation blend with crazed laughter that hints at enjoyment and power lust. Awesome stuff!
I am saddened that so many people seem to find it cool to hate on Cage seeing how he has been entertaining us for so long and has maintained a huge and inspirational presence in the industry. His wide variety of characters has given us some of film’s most memorable moments and it has been a blast seeing him evolve as an actor over the years. You may not love each and every film he is in (like all actors) but you have to admit he is a more than capable actor with amazing range that is not afraid to try something new no matter how much criticism comes his way.
I am a lifelong fan Mr. Cage. As an avid moviegoer, aspiring actor/director/writer, and comedian you have my full respect and admiration. Your talent and efforts are recognized and most appreciated! Keep it up!