Nicolas Cage (born Nicolas Kim Coppola; January 7, 1964) is an American actor, producer and director, having appeared in over 60 films including Raising Arizona (1987), The Rock (1996), Face/Off (1997), Gone In 60 Seconds (2000), National Treasure (2004), Ghost Rider (2007), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), and Kick-Ass (2010). Cage, at age 32, became the fifth youngest actor ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas.
Cage was born in Long Beach, California. His father, August Coppola, was a professor of literature; Cage's mother, Joy Vogelsang, is a dancer and choreographer; Cage's parents divorced in 1976. Cage's mother is of German descent and his father was of Italian descent (his paternal great-grandparents, composer Carmine Coppola and actress Italia Pennino, were immigrants from Bernalda, Basilicata). Through his father, Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, and the cousin of directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola, film producer Gian-Carlo Coppola, and actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman. Cage's two brothers are New York radio personality Marc "The Cope" Coppola and director Christopher Coppola. He was raised as a Roman Catholic. Cage attended Beverly Hills High School, which is known for its many alumni who became entertainers, and aspired to act from an early age. Cage also attended UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television. His first non-cinematic acting experience was in a school production of Golden Boy.
To avoid the appearance of nepotism as the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, he changed his name early in his career to Nicolas Cage, inspired in part by the Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage. Since his minor role in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn, Cage has appeared in a wide range of films, both mainstream and offbeat. He tried out for the role of Dallas Winston in his uncle's film The Outsiders, based on S.E. Hinton's novel, but lost to Matt Dillon. He was also in Coppola's films Rumble Fish and Peggy Sue Got Married.
Other Cage roles included appearances in the acclaimed 1987 romantic-comedy Moonstruck, also starring Cher; The Coen Brothers cult-classic comedy Raising Arizona; David Lynch's 1990 offbeat film Wild at Heart; a lead role in Martin Scorsese's 1999 New York City paramedic drama Bringing Out the Dead; and Ridley Scott's 2003 quirky drama Matchstick Men, in which he played an agoraphobic, mysophobic, obsessive-compulsive con artist with a tic disorder.
Cage has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, winning once for his performance as a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. His other nomination was for his portrayal of real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Kaufman's fictional twin Donald in Adaptation. Despite these successes, most of his lower-profile films have performed poorly at the box office compared to his mainstream action/adventure roles. The suspense thriller 8mm (1999) was not a box office success, but is now considered a cult film. He took the lead role in the 2001 film Captain Corelli's Mandolin and learned to play the mandolin from scratch for the part. In 2005, two offbeat films he headlined, Lord of War and The Weather Man, failed to find a significant audience despite nationwide releases and good reviews for his acting in those roles. Poor reviews for The Wicker Man resulted in low box office sales. The much criticized Ghost Rider (2007), based on the Marvel Comics character, fared better, earning more than $45 million (the top earner) during its opening weekend and over $208 million worldwide through the weekend ending on March 25, 2007. Also in 2007, he made his directorial debut in Sonny and he starred in Next, which shares the concept of a glimpse into an alternate timeline with The Family Man (2000).
Most of Cage's movies that have achieved financial success were in the action/adventure genre. In his second-highest grossing film to date, National Treasure, he plays an eccentric historian who goes on a dangerous adventure to find treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States. Other action hits include The Rock, in which Cage plays a young FBI chemical weapons expert who infiltrates Alcatraz Island in hopes of neutralizing a terrorist threat, Face/Off, a John Woo film where he plays both a hero and a villain, and World Trade Center, director Oliver Stone's film regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks. He had a small but notable role as the Chinese criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu in Rob Zombie's fake trailer Werewolf Women of the S.S. from the B-movie double feature Grindhouse.
In recent years, Cage made his directorial debut with Sonny, a low-budget drama starring James Franco as a male prostitute whose mother (Brenda Blethyn) serves as his pimp. Cage had a small role in the grim film, which received poor reviews and a short run in a limited number of theatres. Cage's producing career includes Shadow of the Vampire, the first film from Saturn Films.
In early December 2006, Cage announced at the Bahamas International Film Festival that he planned to curtail his future acting endeavors to pursue other interests. On The Dresden Files for the Sci-Fi Channel, Cage is listed as the executive producer. Cage said:
I feel I've made a lot of movies already and I want to start exploring other opportunities that I can apply myself to, whether it's writing or other interests that I may develop.
In November 2007, Cage was spotted backstage at a Ring of Honor wrestling show in New York City researching his role for The Wrestler. The role was ultimately played by Mickey Rourke, who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
Wrestler Director Darren Aronofsky, in an interview with slashfilm.com, said of Cage's decision to leave the film that:
Nic was a complete gentleman, and he understood that my heart was with Mickey and he stepped aside. I have so much respect for Nic Cage as an actor and I think it really could have worked with Nic but ... you know, Nic was incredibly supportive of Mickey and he is old friends with Mickey and really wanted to help with this opportunity, so he pulled himself out of the race.
|Cage at the 66th Venice Film Festival in September 2009|
In 2008, Cage appeared as Joe, a contract killer who undergoes a change of heart while on a work outing in Bangkok, in the film Bangkok Dangerous. The film is shot by the Pang Brothers and has a distinct South-East Asian flavor.
In 2009, Cage starred in science fiction thriller Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas. In the film, he plays an MIT professor who examines the contents of a time capsule unearthed at his son's elementary school. Startling predictions found inside the capsule that have already come true lead him to believe the world is going to end at the close of the week, and that he and his son are somehow involved in the destruction. The film received mainly negative reviews but was the box office winner on its opening weekend.
Also in 2009, Cage starred in the film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, directed by acclaimed German director Werner Herzog. He portrayed a corrupt police officer with gambling, drug and alcohol addictions. The film was very well-received by critics, holding a rating of 85% positive reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Cage received lauds for his performance, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writing "Herzog has found his ideal interpreter, a performer whose truth lies deep in the artifice of performance: ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage, at his finest." This film reunited Cage with Eva Mendes, who played his love interest in Ghost Rider.
In 2011, Cage starred in the period piece Season of the Witch, playing a 14th-century knight transporting a girl accused of causing the Black Plague to a monastery, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, in which he played the sorcerer.
He will star in National Treasure 3, which has a possible release date as early as 2011. He will again take the role of Benjamin Gates, a cryptologist-turned-treasure hunter.
In February 2011, Cage claimed to have created a new method of acting he calls Nouveau Shamanic. He claims to have used the acting style throughout his career and one day plans to write a book about the method.
Praise and criticism
The acting work of Cage has been praised by influential film critic Roger Ebert who writes, in his "Great Movies" essay about the film Adaptation., that:
There are often lists of the great living male movie stars: De Niro, Nicholson and Pacino, usually. How often do you see the name of Nicolas Cage? He should always be up there. He's daring and fearless in his choice of roles, and unafraid to crawl out on a limb, saw it off and remain suspended in air. No one else can project inner trembling so effectively.... He always seems so earnest. However improbable his character, he never winks at the audience. He is committed to the character with every atom and plays him as if he were him.
Roger Ebert, in response to mixed reviews of Knowing and their focus on criticizing Cage, wrote an article in which he defends both Cage as an actor and the movie which, in stark contrast to other critics, Ebert gave 4/4 stars.
In the 1995 edition of the Academy Awards, he was awarded Best Actor for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas.
In May 2001, Cage was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University, Fullerton. He spoke at the commencement ceremony.
In March 2009, Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman called on Cage to return to dramas rather than high-paying blockbusters.
Relationships and family
Cage has been married three times. His first wife was the actress Patricia Arquette (married on April 8, 1995, divorce finalized on May 18, 2001).
Cage's second wife was singer/songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, of whom Cage is a fan and on whom he based his performance in Wild at Heart. They married on August 10, 2002 and filed for divorce on November 25, 2002, after 108 days of marriage; their divorce was finalized on May 16, 2004. The divorce proceeding was longer than the marriage.
In 1988, Cage began dating Christina Fulton, who later bore their son, Weston Coppola Cage (born December 26, 1990). Weston appeared in Cage's film Lord of War as Vladimir, a young Ukrainian mechanic who quickly disarms a Mil Mi-24 helicopter and is lead singer of the black metal band Eyes of Noctum.In December 2009, Fulton sued Cage for $13 million and the house she is living in. The suit was in response to an order that she leave the house, brought about by the financial problems of Cage.
His third and current wife Alice Kim, a former waitress who previously worked at the Los Angeles restaurant Kabuki, met Cage at the Los Angeles-based Korean nightclub, Le Privé. She is the mother of his son, Kal-El (born October 3, 2005), named after Superman's birth name. Cage was once considered for the role of Superman in a film to be directed by Tim Burton. Alice had a minor role in the 2007 film Next, which Cage produced. They were married at a private ranch in Northern California on July 30, 2004.
Real estate and tax problems
Cage had a Malibu home where he and Alice lived, but sold the property in 2005 for $10 million. In 2004 he bought a property on Paradise Island, Bahamas. In May 2006, he bought a 40-acre (160,000 m2) island in the Exuma archipelago, some 85 miles (137 km) southeast of Nassau and close to a similar island owned by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
He once owned the medieval castle of Schloss Neidstein in the Oberpfalz region in Germany, which he bought in 2006 and sold in 2009 for $2.5 million. His grandmother was German, living in Cochem an der Mosel.
In August 2007, Cage purchased a home in Middletown, Rhode Island. The 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2), brick-and-stone country manor occupies 26 acres (110,000 m2), has 12 bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, and ocean views and borders the Norman Bird Sanctuary. The estate is called the "Grey Craig". The sale ranked among the state’s most expensive residential purchases, eclipsed by the 2007 $17.15 million sale of the Miramar mansion on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. Also in 2007, the actor purchased Midford Castle in Somerset, England.
Shortly after selling his German castle, Cage also put homes in Rhode Island, Louisiana, Nevada, and California, as well as a $7 million island in the Bahamas, up for sale.
On July 14, 2009, the Internal Revenue Service filed documents in New Orleans in connection with a federal tax lien against property owned by Cage in Louisiana, concerning unpaid federal taxes. The IRS alleges that Cage failed to pay over $6.2 million in federal income tax for the year 2007. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service has another lien for more than $350,000 in unpaid taxes dating from 2002 to 2004. Cage filed a $20 million lawsuit on October 16, 2009, against his business manager, Samuel J. Levin, alleging negligence and fraud. The lawsuit states that Levin "had failed to pay taxes when they were due and had placed Cage in speculative and risky real estate investments 'resulting in (the actor) suffering catastrophic losses'." Cage is also facing separate lawsuits from East West Bank and Red Curb Investments for unpaid, multimillion dollar loans.
Samuel Levin filed a counter-complaint and responded to the lawsuit in a filing stating that he warned Cage that he was living beyond his means and urged him to spend less. Levin's filing states that "instead of listening to Levin, cross-defendant Coppola spent most of his free time shopping for high ticket purchases, and wound up with 15 personal residences", Levin's complaint continued: "Likewise, Levin advised Coppola against buying a Gulfstream jet, against buying and owning a flotilla of yachts, against buying and owning a squadron of Rolls Royces, against buying millions of dollars in jewelry and art."
In his filing Levin says that in 2007 Cage's "shopping spree entailed the purchase of three additional residences at a total cost of more than $33 million; the purchase of 22 automobiles (including 9 Rolls Royces); 12 purchases of expensive jewelry; and 47 purchases of artwork and exotic items." One of those exotic items was a dinosaur skull of a Tarbosaurus for which Nicolas Cage paid $276,000 in an auction after winning a bidding contest against Leonardo DiCaprio.
According to Cage, he owned the "Most Haunted House in America", a home located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The home is known as "The LaLaurie house" after its former owner Delphine LaLaurie. The house was foreclosed and sold at auction on November 12, 2009 along with another New Orleans property for a total of $5.5 million, in the wake of his financial problems.
His Bel Air home, which had six loans totaling $18 million on it, failed to sell an April 2010 foreclosure auction despite an opening offer of $10.4 million, far substantially less than the $35 million that Cage had originally tried to sell it for. The home, built in 1940 for $110,000 had been owned by Dean Martin and singer Tom Jones. The home eventually sold in November 2010 for $10.5 million. Another home in Nevada also faces foreclosure auction.
Nicolas Cage remains one of Hollywood's highest paid actors, earning $40 million in 2009 according to Forbes Magazine.
Cage has created a comic book with his son Weston, called Voodoo Child, which is published by Virgin Comics. Cage has a strong interest in comic books, and once auctioned a collection of 400 vintage comics through Heritage Auctions for over $1.6 million in 2002.
In 1997 Cage broke the auction record for Lamborghinis when he placed a bid on a rare Miura SVJ for US$490,000.
He is a fan and collector of painter and underground comic artist Robert Williams. He has written introductions for Juxtapoz magazine and purchased the painting Death On The Boards.
Year Film Role Notes
1980 Brubaker Extra Uncredited
1981 Best Of Times Nicholas
1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High Brad's Bud
1983 The Outsiders man in rumble scene Uncredited
Valley Girl Randy
Rumble Fish Smokey
1984 Racing with the Moon Nicky and Bud
The Cotton Club Vincent Dwyer
Birdy Sergeant Al Columbato
1986 The Boy in Blue Ned Hanlan
Peggy Sue Got Married Charlie Bodell
1987 Raising Arizona H. I. McDunnough
Moonstruck Ronny Cammareri Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1988 Never on Tuesday Man In Red Sports Car
1989 Vampire's Kiss Peter Leow Festival de Cine de Sitges Award for Best Actor Tied with Sir Michael Gambon for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male
1990 Tempo di uccidere Enrico Silvestri
Fire Birds Jake Preston aka Wings of the Apache
Wild at Heart Sailor
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas Jack Singer Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1993 Amos & Andrew Amos Odell
1994 A Century of Cinema Himself
Red Rock West Michael Williams
Guarding Tess Doug Chesnic
It Could Happen to You Charlie Lang
Trapped in Paradise Bill Firpo
1995 Kiss of Death Little Junior Brown
Leaving Las Vegas Ben Sanderson Academy Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
San Sebastián International Film Festival Silver Seashell
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1996 The Rock Dr. Stanley Goodspeed
1997 Con Air Cameron Poe
Face/Off Castor Troy/Sean Archer Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actor
1998 City of Angels Seth
Snake Eyes Rick Santoro
1999 8mm Tom Welles
Bringing Out the Dead Frank Pierce
2000 Gone in Sixty Seconds Randall "Memphis" Raines
The Family Man Jack Campbell
Welcome to Hollywood Himself
2001 Italian Soldiers Himself
Captain Corelli's Mandolin Captain Antonio Corelli
Christmas Carol: The Movie Jacob Marley Voice
2002 Windtalkers Sgt. Joe Enders
Adaptation. Charlie and Donald Kaufman Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Visual Effects Society Award for Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film
Sonny Acid Yellow Director
Nominated — Deauville Film Festival Grand Prix du jury
2003 Matchstick Men Roy Waller
2004 National Treasure Benjamin Gates
2005 Lord of War Yuri Orlov
The Weather Man David Spritz
2006 The Ant Bully Zoc Voice
The Wicker Man Edward Malus
Too Tough To Die Himself
World Trade Center John McLoughlin
2007 Ghost Rider Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze
Grindhouse Dr. Fu Manchu Segment Werewolf Women of the S.S.
Next Cris Johnson
National Treasure: Book of Secrets Benjamin Gates
2008 Bangkok Dangerous Joe
2009 Knowing Professor Jonathan "John" Koestler
G-Force Speckles the Mole Voice
Astro Boy Dr. Tenma Voice
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Terrence McDonagh, The bad Lieutenant Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Kick-Ass Damon Macready/Big Daddy
The Sorcerer's Apprentice Balthazar Blake
2011 Season of the Witch Behman
Drive Angry Milton post-production
Trespass Kyle pre-production
The Hungry Rabbit Jumps Nick Gerard post-production
2012 The Croods Crug Voice
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze