Nicolas Cage on the Comedy of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – The Hollywood Reporter

For his latest role, Nicolas Cage plays himself: something like — in the multigenre The unbearable weight of massive talentan experience that he says invited him to return to comedy.

speaking to the hollywood reporter during the special New York screening of Lionsgate, Saturn Films and Burr! Productions held at Regal Essex Crossing & RPX on Sunday night, the star credited co-writers Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican (who is also directing the film) for allowing him to play in a genre that had eluded him in recent years.

“Somewhere along the way, Hollywood seems to have forgotten that I could do comedy,” Cage explained. “I had done raising Arizona, I had done Honeymoon in Vegas, Moonstruck — I mean it goes on — but they forgot. With this, Tom invited me back into comedy and it was a very welcome experience for me because he wanted to do that. It’s been so long.”

In the film, Cage uses all of his acting chops to play Nicolas Cage, an aging actor struggling for new roles who desperately accepts an offer from billionaire admirer Javi Gutiérrez (Pedro Pascal) to appear at his party. birthday party for a $1 million stay that takes a somewhat wild turn after the CIA gets involved.

Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

“The script starts out as a stand-alone character play and slowly, when Pedro Pascal’s character comes in, it becomes a buddy comedy, and we really had to try to make that perfect, so it was about grounding all performances around the world. the entire genre as much as we could,” Gormican explained. “From production design to score, we really had to work hard to use all the tools available to transition from one genre to another.”

The film bounces from explosive action to emotional indie to meta-comedy and back again, but for Cage, it was the laughs that “resonated” the most. “All the comedy in the movie resonated because I like to be funny at home and make my wife and kids laugh,” he explained. “I go a little off the wall in my particular style of humor and that comes across well in this film. It’s very evident in the film what my sense of humor is.”

While enjoying the art of laughter, the act of playing himself, Cage told him THRIt was a bit of an out of body experience. “There were some moments where, like the poolside scene and I’m on the sun lounger and people call you Mr. Cage, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening. This is the name of my character. It’s scary. Those days were a bit tricky, but I’m happy to say it all works out.”

That may have been an exaggerated sentiment in part due to the fact that much of the cast were actual Cage fans, according to Gormican. “When we started posting this, once we had Nick, all the actors that are on this project revealed to us that they were huge fans of Nicolas Cage and just wanted to be in him. Pedro Pascal came over for lunch and said, ‘I don’t care if they put me in this movie, I just want to talk to you guys about Nick.

Pascal confirmed to THR that stepping in to play a Nicolas Cage superfan was perhaps a little more brazen than Cage playing Cage. “Interestingly, I would say I’m playing a version of myself that might be even closer to me than Nicolas Cage is to Nicolas Cage in this film,” Pascal said, describing Cage as a “spontaneous and original” scene. partner who was “fun to work with and challenging”.

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From left: Lily Sheen, Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

For Lily Sheen, who plays Cage’s daughter Addy, she couldn’t personally identify with the experience of having a famous burnt-out father, but called the experience of playing in the “worst case scenario…bizarre world version” of the game. entertainment as “cathartic”. Having Cage there to help guide her through her first major movie role made it even better.

“The person I worked with was an amazing father and amazing mentor and was a fantastic person to have on set to calm me down and teach me how to do things,” she said. “I don’t think Nick Cage in that movie would have probably done the same thing.”

Cage admitted on the carpet that playing an exaggerated, tabloid-style version of himself was something of a test of his acting technique, as it took a few days once he was on set to really adjust to the role.

“I have certain criteria that I meet in every movie to build a character. I design the character: the movements, the expressions, the vocalizations, some of what I’m going to say, from the ridiculous and hopefully to the sublime,” Cage said. “But whatever you design, no matter how broad it is, it has to have genuine emotion. The emotional content has to permeate both the performance and the imagination.”

“So I realized on day one or two after I had the first nerves to play a character that actually has my name, and I’m still reeling from that, I realized that the same criteria can be applied. to this,” he concluded.

Working on set with an actor who has such a clear vision for his roles and shares the same name (and resume) as his character resulted in some on-set talk about how to separate the characters from the real man. “Nick would always come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Tom, there’s this guy who wears rings and leather jackets, and he lives in Vegas. And he would never say that. And I go, ‘Oh, you mean you?’” Gormican says, laughing. And he says, ‘Well, yes.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s not you. He is a character based on you. He says: ‘He has my name’. And I’m like, please say the line. We’d both be laughing and he’d be like, OK, OK. I will do it.”

However, blurring the line between fact and fiction in this homage to Nicolas Cage also produced one of the funniest moments in the film. “In the script, the younger version of Nick was supposed to kiss Nick on the cheek, and that morning, Nick came up to Tom and said, ‘I have an idea for this scene. I think young Nick should give Nick a deep French kiss. He said to me, ‘What do you think of that?’” Etten recalls. “And we were like, ‘Yes. That is incredible. It would never have occurred to me to tell you, but yes, a thousand times.

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From left to right: Paco León, Lily Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Turen, Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Kristin Burr, Kevin Etten and Mike Nilon
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Finding out what to throw at Cage and how to create the fictional version of him actually came from co-writers and genuine fans of Etten and Gormican who dove deep into the actor’s catalog as well as watched hours upon hours of interviews. “We read a lot of interviews with him, we watched interviews, so we had a sense of the things that he was interested in,” Etten said. THR. “We knew he loved German Expressionist movies, so we added that to his character where, in the first act, he wants to show his daughter The Cabinet of Dr. Caligariwhich is this old German film, which we had read that he loves”.

So, there were little things like that where we knew this would show him that we’ve done our research, that we’ve studied what he’s into and sprayed him with that kind of stuff,” he continued. “So it was again a negotiation in terms of who the character was and who he was.”

“The fact that he has enough perspective on where the fake version of him sits in the kind of entertainment ecosystem is a really great thing,” adds Gormican. “It’s kind of a flawed performance where he can present a version of himself that’s down and out, and that’s hard to do.”

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