Cage, Nicolas 1964(?)–
Cage, Nicolas 1964(?)–
Original name, Nicolas Kim Coppola (some sources spell first name "Nicholas"); born January 7, 1964 (some sources cite 1965), in Long Beach, CA; son of August Floyd Coppola (a professor of comparative literature and writer) and Joy Vogelsang (a ballet dancer and choreographer); brother of Marc Coppola (an actor and disc jockey) and Christopher Coppola (a producer, director, and writer); grandson of Carmine Coppola (a composer and musician); nephew of Francis Ford Coppola (a director, producer, and writer), Eleanor Neil Coppola (a producer), and Talia Shire (an actress and director); cousin of Sofia Coppola (a director, writer, and actress), Roman Coppola (a director), Jason Schwartzman (an actor and musician), and Robert Schwartzman (an actor; also known as Robert Schwartzman-Cage); married Patricia Arquette (an actress), April 8, 1995 (divorced, August 29, 2001); married Lisa Marie Presley (a singer), August 10, 2002 (divorced, May 16, 2004); married Alice Kim (a waitress), July 30, 2004; children: (with Kristina Fulton) Weston; (third marriage) Kal-El (son). Education: Studied acting at American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco, CA, beginning c. 1979; some sources also cite graduation from University of California, Los Angeles. Avocational Interests: Cars, racing.
Addresses: Office—Saturn Films, 9000 Sunset Blvd., Suite 911, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Agent—Richard Lovett, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist—Annett Wolf, Wolf/Kasteler/Van Iden and Associates Public Relations, 335 North Maple Dr., Suite 351, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Career: Actor and producer. Saturn Films, West Hollywood, CA, chief executive officer. Concession worker at the Fairfax Theater, Los Angeles.
Awards, Honors: Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, 1988, for Moonstruck; Catalonian International Film Festival Award, best actor, 1989, and Independent Spirit Award nomination, best male lead, Independent Features Project West, 1990, both for Vampire's Kiss; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, 1993, for Honeymoon in Vegas; Piper-Heidsieck Tribute to Independent Vision Award, Sundance Film Festival, 1995; New York Film Critics Circle Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, National Board of Review Award, and Silver Seashell, San Sebastian International Film Festival, all best actor, all 1995, Academy Award, best actor in a leading role, Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—drama, Screen Actors Guild Award, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award, and National Society of Film Critics Award, all best actor, Film Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Independent Spirit Award nomination, best male lead, and Chlotrudis Award nomination, best actor, all 1996, all for Leaving Las Vegas; Career Excellence Award, Montreal World Film Festival, 1996; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—action/adventure, and MTV Movie Award (with Sean Connery), best onscreen duo, both 1997, for The Rock; named one of the 100 top movie stars of all time, Empire magazine, 1997; MTV Movie Award (with John Travolta), best onscreen duo, Saturn Award nomination, best actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, and MTV Movie Award nominations, best actor and (with Travolta) best villain, all 1998, for Face/Off; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—action/adventure, 1998, for Face/Off and Con Air; Peter J. Owens Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1998; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1998; named one of the 100 most powerful people in Hollywood, Premiere magazine, 1998; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—drama/romance, and MTV Movie Award nomination (with Meg Ryan), best on-screen duo, both 1999, City of Angels; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—suspense, 1999, for Snake Eyes; named to Forbes magazine Power 100 in Entertainment list, 2000 and other years; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—comedy/romance, 2001, for The Family Man; Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite actor—action, 2001, for Gone in Sixty Seconds; Special Award, distinguished decade of achievement in film, ShoWest Convention, National Association of Theatre Owners, 2001; American Cinematheque Award, 2001; Desert Palm Achievement Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2001; honorary D.F. A., California State University Fullerton, 2001; nomination for Grand Special Prize, Deauville Film Festival, 2002, for Sonny; Toronto Film Critics Association Award, best male performance, 2002, Academy Award nomination, best actor in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role, Film Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination, best actor, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination, best actor in a leading role, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical, International Press Academy, Visual Effects Society Award nomination, best actor in an effects film, Online Film Critics Society Award nomination, best actor, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by the cast of a theatrical motion picture, and Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination (with others), best acting ensemble, all 2003, all for Adaptation; Career Achievement Award, Chicago International Film Festival, 2003; Barrymore Award, Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild awards, 2004.
(As Nicolas Coppola) Brad's bud, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Universal, 1982.
Randy, Valley Girl (also known as Bad Boyz and Rebel Dreams), Atlantic Releasing, 1983.
Smokey, Rumble Fish, Universal, 1983.
Al Columbato, Birdy, TriStar, 1984.
Nicky, Racing with the Moon, Paramount, 1984.
Vincent "Mad Dog" Dwyer, The Cotton Club, Orion, 1984.
Charlie Bodell, Peggy Sue Got Married, TriStar, 1986.
Ned Hanlan, The Boy in Blue, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1986.
H. I. "Hi" McDonnough, Raising Arizona, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1987.
Ronnie Cammareri, Moonstruck (also known as The Bride and the Wolf), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1987.
Peter Loew, Vampire's Kiss, Hemdale Releasing, 1988.
(Uncredited) Man in a red sports car, Never on Tuesday, Palisades Entertainment, 1989.
Jake Preston, Fire Birds (also known as Wings of the Apache), Buena Vista, 1990.
Johnny Collins, Zandalee, Electric Pictures, 1991.
Detective Jack Singer, Honeymoon in Vegas, Columbia, 1992.
Enrico Silvestri, Tempo di uccidere (also known as The Short Cut, Time to Kill, and Le raccourci), Republic Pictures, 1992.
Amos Odell, Amos & Andrew, Columbia, 1993.
Eddie, Deadfall, Trimark Pictures, 1993.
Michael Williams, Red Rock West, Propaganda Films, 1993.
Bill Firpo, Trapped in Paradise, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1994.
Charlie Lang, It Could Happen to You (also known as Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip and Cop Tips Waitress $2 Million), TriStar, 1994.
Doug Chesnic, Guarding Tess, TriStar, 1994.
Himself, A Century of Cinema (documentary), 1994.
Ben Sanderson, Leaving Las Vegas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1995.
Little Junior Brown, Kiss of Death, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995.
Stanley Goodspeed, The Rock, Buena Vista, 1996.
Cameron Poe, Con Air, Buena Vista, 1997.
Castor Troy/Sean Archer, Face/Off (also known as Face Off), Paramount, 1997.
Detective Rick Santoro, Snake Eyes, Paramount, 1998.
Himself, Junket Whore (documentary), 1998.
Seth, City of Angels (also known as Stadt der Engel), Warner Bros., 1998.
Frank Pierce, Bringing out the Dead, Paramount, 1999.
Tom Welles, 8MM (also known as 8 Millimeter and 8mm—Acht Millimeter), Columbia, 1999.
Jack Campbell, The Family Man, MCA/Universal, 2000.
Himself, Welcome to Hollywood, Phaedra Cinema, 2000.
Randall "Memphis" Raines, Gone in Sixty Seconds (also known as Gone in 60 Seconds), Buena Vista, 2000.
Captain Antonio Corelli, Captain Corelli's Mandolin (also known as Capitaine Corelli), MCA/Universal, 2001.
Voice of Jacob Marley, Christmas Carol: The Movie (animated; also known as Ein Weihnachtsmaerchen), Contentfilm International, 2001.
Acid Yellow, Sonny, Samuel Goldwyn, 2002.
Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation (also known as The Orchid Thief), Columbia, 2002.
Sergeant Joe Enders, Windtalkers (also known as Wind Talkers), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2002.
Roy Waller, Matchstick Men, Warner Bros., 2003.
Ben Gates, National Treasure (also known as Sonomo), Buena Vista, 2004.
David Spritz, The Weather Man, Paramount, 2005.
Yuri Orlov, Lord of War, Lions Gate Films, 2005.
Amarillo Slim Preston (title role), Amarillo Slim, Ithaka Entertainment, 2006.
Johnny Blaze/title role, Ghost Rider, Columbia/Dimension Films, 2006.
Sheriff, The Wicker Man, Warner Bros., 2006.
Voice of Zoc, Ant Bully (animated), Warner Bros., 2006.
Time Share, Columbia, c. 2006.
Ben Gates, National Treasure 2, Buena Vista, 2007.
Cris Johnson, Next, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Revolution Studios, 2007.
Electric God, Mission Pictures, 2007.
Shadow of the Vampire, Lions Gate Films, 2000.
Himself, Italian Soldiers (documentary; also known as Spaghetti Requiem), First Hand Films, 2001.
(And director) Sonny, Samuel Goldwyn, 2002.
The Life of David Gale (also known as Das Leben des David Gale), Universal, 2003.
Lord of War, Lions Gate Films, 2005.
Amarillo Slim, Ithaka Entertainment, 2006.
The Wicker Man, Warner Bros., 2006.
Time Share, Columbia, c. 2006.
Electric God, Mission Pictures, 2007.
Next, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Revolution Studios, 2007.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Heartbreaking man, Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted, c. 1989.
Television Appearances; Specials:
(As Nicolas Coppola) Nicholas, The Best of Times, ABC, 1981.
The Second Annual Saturday Night Live Mother's Day Special, NBC, 1993.
Disney's Most Unlikely Heroes, ABC, 1996.
Art Mann's 10th Anniversary Winter Special, E! Entertainment Television, 1997.
Himself, The Inside Reel: Digital Filmmaking, PBS, 2001.
The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 2003.
Himself, John Travolta: The Inside Story, Channel 5 (England), 2004.
Himself, National Treasure Uncovered, 2004.
Himself, Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, multiple networks, 2005.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
(In archive footage) Charlie Bodell, The 59th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1987.
Presenter, The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.
Presenter, The 66th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1994.
The 67th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1995.
Presenter, The 53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1996.
Presenter, The 68th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1996.
Presenter, The 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1997.
Presenter, The 69th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1997.
Presenter, Third Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as Screen Actors Guild Third Annual Awards), NBC, 1997.
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, UPN, 1997.
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, UPN, 1998.
Presenter, The 71st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1999.
The Fifth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 1999.
Himself, 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.
Presenter, 2000 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2000.
Himself, 2001 ABC World Stunt Awards, ABC, 2001.
Presenter, The 73rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2001.
The Seventh Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2001.
Himself, Hollywood Salutes Nicolas Cage: An American Cinematheque Tribute (also known as American Cinematheque Gala Tribute), TNT, 2002.
Himself, 2002 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2002.
Presenter, Ninth Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as Screen Actors Guild Ninth Annual Awards), TNT, 2003.
Himself, The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.
Presenter, The 76th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2004.
Presenter, The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Himself, Jonathan Ross Presents … for One Week Only: David Lynch, Channel 4 (England), 1990.
Narrator, "Davy Crockett," American Heroes and Legends, Showtime, 1992.
Host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's "Saturday Night," Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1992.
Himself, Intimate Portrait: Shirley Maclaine, Lifetime, 1996.
Intimate Portrait: Sean Connery, Lifetime, 1997.
Himself, Intimate Portrait: Laura Dern, Lifetime, 1999.
Himself, "John Travolta," Biography (also known as A & E Biography: John Travolta), Arts and Entertainment, 2003.
(In archive footage) Himself, "Lisa Marie Presley," Love Chain, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
(In archive footage) Himself, Celebrities Uncensored, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
Himself, Intimate Portrait: Vanessa Marcil, Lifetime, 2003.
(In archive footage) Himself, Lisa Marie Presley: The E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
(In archive footage) 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops (also known as E's "101"), E! Entertainment Television, 2004.
(In archive footage) Himself, Cinema mil, TV3 (Television de Catalunya, Spain), 2005.
Television Guest Appearances; Episodic:
Hi-Octane (also known as High Octane), Comedy Central, 1995.
Mundo VIP, [Portugal], 1996.
Howard Stern, E! Entertainment Television, 1996, 2002.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2001, 2002, 2004.
Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 2003.
Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.
GMTV, Independent Television, 2004.
Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2004, 2005.
The Late Show with David Letterman (also known as The Late Show), CBS, 2005.
Television Work; Pilots:
Executive producer and producer, "Storm Front," The Dresden Files, Sci-Fi Channel, c. 2006.
Heartbreaking man, Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted, New Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York City, 1989.
Radio Appearances; Episodic:
The Howard Stern Radio Show, 1996, 2002.
Videos; as Himself:
Sean Connery Close Up, Blue Dolphin Film Distribution, 1997.
Making Angels (short documentary), Warner Home Video, 1998.
(Uncredited) The Cult: Music without Fear, Coming Home Studios, 2002.
The Code Talkers: A Secret Code of Honor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, 2003.
Tricks of the Trade: Making "Matchstick Men," Warner Bros., 2004.
National Treasure on Location (short documentary), Buena Vista Home Video, 2005.
Commentator on DVD version, The Rock (also known as The Rock Criterion Collection), Criterion, 2001.
Commentator on director's edition on DVD, Windtalkers (also known as Wind Talkers and Windtalkers Director's Edition), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, 2003.
Film Music; Songs:
Wild at Heart (also known as David Lynch's "Wild at Heart"), Samuel Goldwyn, 1990.
"Ridiculous," Leaving Las Vegas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1995.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, fourth edition, St. James Press, 2000.
Robb, Brian, Nicolas Cage: Hollywood's Wild Talent, Plexus Publishing, 1998.
Thompson, Douglas, Uncaged: The Biography of Nicolas Cage, Trans-Atlantic Publications, 1997.
American Film, June, 1990, pp. 22-29.
Biography, February, 1999, pp. 28-34, 106.
Details, October, 1992, pp. 96-101; June, 1996, pp. 88-93.
Detour, October, 1999, pp. 92-98.
Empire, December, 1990, p. 55; October, 1997, p. 195.
Entertainment Weekly, March 15, 1996.
The Face, August, 1990, pp. 34-39.
GQ, March, 1997; March, 2005.
Harper's Bazaar, July, 1994, pp. 94-97, 136, 139.
Hello!, August 27, 2002, pp. 4-12.
Interview, August, 1994.
Movieline, May, 1996, pp. 40-44, 83-85; June, 1998, pp. 44-49, 84-86.
New York Times, July 24, 1994, section 2, pp. 1, 22, 23.
Parade, June 9, 2002, pp. 4-5.
People Weekly, January 15, 1996, p. 106; February 26, 1996, pp. 63-66; October 8, 2001, p. 153; December 9, 2002, p. 72; August 16, 2004, p. 84; December 20, 2004, p. 93.
Premiere, July, 1997, p. 50.
Rolling Stone, November 16, 1995, pp. 92-95, 121, 123; November 11, 1999, pp. 94-105, 148.
Seventeen, August, 1992, p. 141.
Sight and Sound, June, 1995, pp. 6-8.
Starlog, July, 1998.
Time, August 27, 2001, p. 60.
Total Film, September, 2002, pp. 42-44.
US, August, 1998, pp. 58-63, 90-92.
Vanity Fair, July, 1996, pp. 74-81, 144, 145.
Vogue, April, 1998, pp. 330-34.
Washington Post, August 31, 1990, pp. D1, D3.
Nationality: American. Born: Nicolas Coppola in Long Beach, California, 7 January 1964; nephew of the director Francis Ford Coppola. Family: Married the actress Patricia Arquette, 1995; son, Weston Coppola Cage, by former girlfriend, the actress Kristina Fulton. Education: Attended Beverly Hills High School, left in 11th grade with an equivalency degree; studied at the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco; studied acting with Peggy Feury. Career: 1981—appeared in TV movie The Best of Times; 1982—made theatrical film debut as Nicolas Coppola in Fast Times at Ridgemont High; 1983—changed last name to avoid being rated as Francis Ford Coppola's nephew, choosing Cage in double homage to composer John Cage and comic book superhero Luke Cage; 1989—gained notoriety for eating a live cockroach in Vampire's Kiss. Awards: Best Actor, New York Film Critics, Golden Globe for best drama actor, Screen Actors Guild Award, National Society of Film Critics, and Academy Award, for Leaving Las Vegas, 1995. Agent: Brillstein/Grey, 9200 Sunset Boulevard, #428, Los Angeles, CA 90069, U.S.A.
Films as Actor: as Nicolas Coppola:
The Best of Times (for TV)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Heckerling) (as Brad's bud)
as Nicolas Cage:
Valley Girl (Coolidge) (as Randy); Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Smokey)
Racing with the Moon (Richard Benjamin) (as Nicky); The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Vincent Dwyer); Birdy (Alan Parker) (as Al Columbato)
The Boy in Blue (Jarrott) (as Ned Hanlan); Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Charlie Bodell)
Raising Arizona (Coen) (as Hi); Moonstruck (Jewison) (as Ronny Cammareri)
Never on Tuesday (Rifkin) (as man in red sports car, uncredited)
Vampire's Kiss (Bierman) (as Peter Loew)
Fire Birds (David Green) (as Jake Preston); Wild at Heart (David Lynch) (as Sailor Ripley); Tempo di Uccidere (Time to Kill; The Short Cut) (Montaldo) (as Enrico Silvestri); Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (Lynch) (as Heartbreaking Man)
Zandalee (Pillsbury) (as Johnny Collins)
Honeymoon in Vegas (Andrew Bergman) (as Jack Singer)
Amos & Andrew (Frye) (as Amos Odell); Deadfall (Christopher Coppola) (as Eddie); Red Rock West (Dahl) (as Michael Williams)
Guarding Tess (Hugh Wilson) (as Doug Chesnic); It Could Happen to You (Andrew Bergman) (as Charlie Lang); Trapped in Paradise (George Gallo) (as Bill Firpo)
Kiss of Death (Schroeder) (as Little Junior Brown); Leaving Las Vegas (Figgis) (as Ben Sanderson)
The Rock (Bay)
Con Air (West) (as Cameron Poe); Face/Off (Woo) (as Castor Troy)
City of Angels (Silberling) (as Seth); Snake Eyes (De Palma) (as Rick Santoro)
8MM (Schumacher) (as Tom Welles); Bringing Out the Dead (Scorsese) (as Frank Pierce)
Gone in Sixty Seconds (Sena) (as Randall "Memphis" Raines); The Family Man (Ratner) (as Jack Campbell)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Madden) (as Corelli)
By CAGE: articles—
Interview with Robert Crane, in Playboy (Chicago), June 1989.
"The Beasts within . . . Nicolas Cage," interview with Mark Rowland, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1990.
"Nicolas Cage, the Sunshine Man," interview with Ellen Pall, in New York Times, 24 July 1994.
"Nicolas Cage," interview with Mark Marvel, in Interview (New York), August 1994.
"Dangerous, Dedicated, and Wild at Heart, Nicolas Cage Is a Hollywood Samurai," interview with Fred Schruers, in Rolling Stone (New York), 16 November 1995.
"Uncaged!" interview with David Eimer, in Time Out (London), 12 June 1996.
On CAGE: books—
Robb, Brian, Nicolas Cage: Hollywood's Wild Talent, London, 1998.
On CAGE: articles—
Hirschfeld, Neal, "A New Face in the Crowd," in New York Daily News Magazine, 3 February 1985.
Clark, John, "Nicolas Cage," in Premiere (New York), September 1990.
Current Biography 1994, New York, 1994.
Babitz, Eve, "Nicolas Cage," Harper's Bazaar (New York), July 1994.
Daly, Steve, "High Spirits," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 8 March 1996.
Radio Times (London), 30 March 1996.
Stars (Mariemborg), no. 29, 1997.
* * *
In his early screen appearances Nicolas Cage came across as a bit of a blowhard. But when he turned himself into a cartoon, as the gentle thief Hi in Raising Arizona, his all-out style became emphatically pleasurable. Cage plays wild hare comedy off his lanky-hunky body, his air of eternal devotion, and a glimmer of Old World honor in his round, dark-lidded eyes. A berserkly anomalous courtliness gives him a romantic air even in the looniest slapstick. He furthered his comic style in the more sophisticated Moonstruck as Ronny, a young butcher in love with his estranged older brother's fiancée. Ronny's brooding perfectly matches the dormancy of Cher's good daughter Loretta; when he proclaims his love for her and she smacks him and tells him to "Snap out of it!," they seem to jolt each other to life. Romantic comedy pairings rarely carry such a richly sensual charge.
Cage then outdid himself in his starring role in Vampire's Kiss as a yuppie editor who thinks he is turning into a vampire; he makes too much seem like just the right amount. His Peter Lowe is at once grotesque and bounding, both a heavily florid comedian such as the young Charles Laughton and a leaping calorie-burner such as Douglas Fairbanks. He keeps falling prey to obsessions and topping one tantrum with another, and getting more and more amusing. Cage achieves transformations as alarmingly funny as Jim Carrey's in The Mask, but without the special effects. (Like Carrey, Cage shows the influence of Jerry Lewis, whom he claims to have idolized as a child.)
Cage was less successful in David Lynch's Wild at Heart as a junkie sailor on the run with his girlfriend, because his craziness has too much competition from the murky swirl of the story and visuals; Lynch was straining. Cage was more impressive in a series of light comedies in the early 1990s, working especially well with Andrew Bergman. As Jack Singer in Honeymoon in Vegas he plays a man who overcomes his fear of marriage when he loses his girlfriend in a poker game. Jack has vacillated too long; by the time he acts the situation requires more than ordinary effort. Jack quickly becomes hilariously exasperated, and Cage gives classic accelerating delivery to such lines as, "He lives in a SHACK!" Cage shows his peerless ability to engage in the most frantic complications of romantic comedy and remain not only funny but sexy.
He was also good in the calmer role of the married cop who leaves a winning lottery ticket as a tip to a waitress in Bergman's It Could Happen to You, and in a straight performance in John Dahl's film noir Red Rock West. Cage is fresh and convincing in both pictures in which he has to be more essentially stable than the way his life is turning out. However, you miss his earmark outbursts. He does not seem actory in Red Rock West, but he does not seem like himself either. He has matured on screen, getting continually manlier and handsomer, and he may be incapable of a bum performance, but he needs to have his composure cracked to work at his most imaginative.
Finally with Leaving Las Vegas he got a chance to really plumb his comic skill. He plays Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic writer who leaves Hollywood for Vegas with the stated goal of drinking himself to death. The script lets us know that Cage's goofiness is the character's; when Ben tape records a pornographic-alcoholic fantasy while waiting in line at the bank, it is the showy misbehavior of a writer, a man emulating Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski. Cage's mugging and flashily affected readings stem from Ben's self-destructive perversity, and the writer-director Mike Figgis enables Cage to push his oneman-band inventiveness to a level of expressiveness that could not be reached any other way. There is no other approach to Ben; he is too smart and too self-conscious to emote. Ben's spaced-out put-on is an extraordinary invention—it is how a man who needs human interaction to the very end keeps in touch with people without letting them intervene in his determination to get to the end. Cage, by showing us how to see through Ben's evasiveness without violating Ben's terms of play, pulls off what Quentin Tarantino could not in Pulp Fiction when at the closing he went sincere with Samuel L. Jackson's freaky takeoff on black Baptist oratory. (Tarantino is a great joker, but he had not provided himself with a fleck of emotional fiber to spin.) Cage has long been the most exciting young actor in American movies; with Leaving Las Vegas he became the most stirring as well.