Known for his manic performances, Nicolas Cage’s acting career is as varied as his characters’ emotions. His operatic acting style isn’t for everyone, but one thing we can all agree on is if you see Nic Cage, you never forget you just saw Nic Cage. Here are some facts that will make this memorable actor even more unforgettable.
1. Heavy Metal
Cage’s car obsession equals that of fellow celebrity car enthusiast Jay Leno. He’s owned a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina, a 1938 Bugatti T57C Atalante Coupe, and a 1971 Lamborghini Miura SVJ that used to belong to the Shah of Iran. In fact, the SVJ is so rare that only 16 of them exist in the world, and only seven of those were actually built by Lamborghini themselves.
2. Pledge at First Sight
Cage actually proposed to Patrcia Arquette on the day he met her, when she was only 18! In fact, both he and Crispin Glover playfully proposed that day, but Cage apparently took it more seriously. He had Arquette make a list of acts he would need to check off before she would accept his proposal. Her impossible list included such items as J.D. Salinger’s infamously rare autograph and a non-existent black orchid.
When Cage actually started fulfilling each ridiculous request, Patricia (understandably) started to freak out and hide from him. But eventually, she was wooed by his efforts, and around a decade later, the two started going out. They finally married in 2001.
3. Superhero Name
Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola, but later changed his name based on his love for the comic book character Luke Cage. He incorrectly stated on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that Luke Cage was the “first black superhero,” to which nerds all around the world heaved a collective sigh and rattled off several highly obscure superheroes.
4. A Dynasty of Entertainers
Cage was born into the legendary Coppola family, and in 1995, his Academy Award win for Leaving Las Vegas meant that three straight generations of Coppolas had won the award. The famed director Francis Ford Coppola (his uncle) and skilled composer Carmine Coppola (his grandfather) both won Oscars in their careers as well.
In 2005, his cousin Sofia Coppola added to the family’s mantle with an Academy Award of her own. And that’s not even including the Oscars won by Cage’s ex-wife Arquette Sofia’s ex-husband Spike Jonze.
5. Like Father Like Son
Continuing the tradition of superhero names, Cage named his second child Kal-el, which, of course, is Superman’s birth name.
6. Comic Cage
In case his name didn’t tip you off, Cage really likes comics. He was heartbroken after Tim Burton’s movie Superman Lives, in which he was going to don the cape himself, was canceled. At least he got to star in Ghost Rider and voice Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.
Compared to Superman, those are consolation prizes at best, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
7. Invest in Comics
Cage’s love of comic books actually led to one of his best investments. Clearly, his extravagant purchases have gotten him into trouble of the years, but one crazy buy he didn’t regret was his edition of Superman’s debut, Action Comics 1. He bought it in 1997 for $110,000, then sold it in 2011 for a whopping $2.16 million!
8. Religious Fan Base
Fans who love Nicolas Cage really, really love him. There’s even a subreddit that’s exclusively devoted to him. And what’s that subreddit called? /r/Onetruegod. Yeesh, that may be overdoing it there Reddit…
9. National Treasures
It’s hard to blow through $150 million, but not if you have the skill of Nicolas Cage. Between 1996 and 2011, Cage made over $150 million…then subsequently spent it all and more, leaving himself in dire financial straits. How does spend that much money, you might ask? By purchasing a $300,000 dinosaur skull, rare albino king cobras, an octopus, multiple castles, and two entire islands.
Yeah, that sounds like it would do it…
10. The Island Life
Most people buy a plane ticket when they go on vacation. But if you’re Nicolas Cage, you buy the land the plane will land on. As mentioned previously, Cage purchased two islands for his own personal use, because can you even call it a vacation without 40 acres of exclusive privacy?
11. Not Just a Car Snob
At one point, not only did Cage own 50 cars, but he also had 30 motorcycles. Some people have a different hat for every day of the month. Cage? Motorcycles.
12. Ghost Hider
Always the eccentric, Cage bought a famed haunted house in 2007. The house once belonged to a 19th-century serial killer named Madame LaLaurie. In the 1800s, LaLaurie killed many of her slaves, and their spirits are said to haunt the mansion today. Evidently, Cage just had to see for himself.
13. Why? For the Love of All That is Good… Why?
Cage owns a collection of real shrunken pygmy heads. No one knows why. Maybe not even Nicolas Cage.
14. Lord of Animals
Cage owns a shark. Of course, why not? He also owns a crocodile. Both of these ferocious creatures should ideally be put into some sort of cage…
15. Alternate Nicolas Cage Dimensions
Few actors can make roles distinctly their own as well as Cage. Imagine how different the following movies would have been if Nicolas had been successful in his audition: John Bender from The Breakfast Club, Tony Stark from Iron Man, Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Joel Goodsen from Risky Business.
By the way, if anyone in Hollywood is willing to remake all those movies with Cage, you’ve got my ticket in the books.
16. Progressing the Art
Fellow actor Ethan Hawke gave Cage high praise by saying that since Marlon Brando, only Cage has done anything new with the art of acting. Nicolas created the acting-style known as “Nouveau Shamanic” and it’s in stark contrast with most actors’ preference of naturalism. Cage credits the author Brian Bates for his inspiration and bases the acting method on shamans, who he believes were very much actors themselves.
17. Ghost Rider
Being a huge comic book collector, it’s no surprise that Cage has a tattoo of antihero Ghost Rider. Cage nabbed his dream role-playing the character in movie of the same name, but funnily enough, he had to conceal his tattoo for the whole shoot, because Ghost Rider obviously wouldn’t ever have a tattoo of himself.
18. He Vill Not Drink Your Blood
Accusations of Cage being a vampire spread across the internet when an 1870s photo of a man who resembled Cage appeared on eBay with the headline “Nicolas Cage is a Vampire.” In response, Cage admitted that there is a resemblance, but said his doppelganger is a “slowed down version” of him. What does that even mean Nic? Is it you or not?!
19. In Tomb We Trust
If you’re afraid that one day your grave might be robbed, play it like Cage and purchase a nine-foot-tall pyramid to have your body buried in.
20. A Method to His Madness
Early in his career, Cage believed strongly in method acting. To prepare for the role of a severely wounded man in Birdy, he had his teeth pulled in real life (without anesthesia!) to connect with the physical pain of his character.
21. Ups and Downs
Cage has a knack for starring in really, really good or really, really bad movies. On Rotten Tomatoes, his movie Deadfall received 0%, and Red Rock West received 95%. And the kicker? Both movies came out the same year!
22. Leaving Money On the Table
Cage accepted only $240,000 for his role in Leaving Las Vegas, arguably his best film. At the time, he was able to negotiate $4 million a picture, but felt that this was a fair trade-off based on the strength of the script. He would go on to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance. Fair trade?
23. A Worker at Heart
Cage has been in over 80 movies. On average, he has starred in over two movies a year for every year he’s been a working actor. Critics tease that Cage can’t say no to a paycheck, but the man himself has said, “I’m one of those Americans who believes in working…but in film acting, for some reason you get criticized for working.”
24. Meme Master
In addition to the meme of Cage being an immortal vampire, another exists of Cage where his forehead and hair is photoshopped to look like a hawk with the caption “My hair is a bird. Your argument is invalid.” This meme is used to poke fun of ad hominem arguments when someone doesn’t use facts to disprove a point, but instead uses a personal attack on one’s character.
25. Presidential Fears
Cage was recently offered the role of playing President Reagan, but voiced concerns that his career would be damaged, since in the movie portrayed Reagan in a flattering light.
26. The Weirdest of the Weird Diets
Cage won’t eat anything that mates in an undignified way. “I actually choose the way I eat according to the way animals have sex. I think fish are very dignified with sex. So are birds.” He will never, however, eat pig, because according to Cage, their undignified mating makes them unfit to be eaten! Perfectly normal behavior, nothing to see here.
27. The Incident…
Cage was once stalked by a mime who appeared on his movie sets and followed him everywhere.
Cage’s first-ever role in a feature film came in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He played a fast-food worker and he was billed as “Nicolas Coppola.”
29. You’re Tearing Me Apart!
Cage became an actor because of James Dean; specifically, because of Dean’s performance in East of Eden. Cage has said that no piece of art has ever affected him like that movie, and when he saw it he thought, “That’s what I want to do.”
30. Not in Your Dreams
A young Cage had recurring dreams of a giant blonde genie woman in a gold bikini, plucking him from his toilet seat through the window like a bizarre, Twilight Zone, King Kong scene.
31. Tomayto, Tomahto
Many critics have claimed that Cage is one of the most egregious overactors in Hollywood. However, other critics and even Cage himself have clapped back at these nay-sayers by stating that he isn’t overacting, he’s “mega-acting.”
32. Cage Jr.
Cage had one son, Weston, born in 1990, with his first wife Christina Fulton. Weston is an actor and a musician, appearing in his dad’s movie Lord of War and fronting the black metal bands Eyes of Noctum and Arsh Anubis.
33. The King
A huge fan of Elvis Presley for years, Cage’s judgment might have been a little clouded when he married the King’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, in 2002. The pair filed for divorce after just 107 days.
34. You Thought That Was Short
Believe it or not, Cage’s marriage to Presley wasn’t even his shortest! In 2019, not long after his divorce from his longtime wife Alice Kim, Cage married Erika Koike in Las Vegas. After just four days later, he filed for an annulment, and the split was finalized soon after.
35. Tis Better to Give
Cage doesn’t just spend his money on ridiculous purchases. He’s also been called one of the most generous stars in Hollywood. He supports many different causes and charities, such as donating $2 million to Amnesty International and $1 million to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
36. I Sue You, You Sue Me
After the IRS alleged that Cage failed to pay more than $6 million in income tax, Cage turned around and sued his business manager for $20 million. He claimed the manager negligently failed to pay Cage’s taxes and encouraged him into several bad investments. The manager then filed a counter-complaint, saying he constantly told Cage to stop buy frivolous things, but the actor would not listen.
37. Stolen Dino
As it turned out, the dinosaur skull that Cage bought was actually stolen. The actor did the right thing and returned the fossil to the Mongolian government—but I think it’s safe to say that wasn’t the best $300,000 he ever spent.
38. Dog Bail
In 2011, after bystanders witnessed a drunken Cage grab his wife by the arm in New Orleans’ French Quarter, police arrested him. He got out, however, when none-other-than Dog the Bounty Hunter posted his $11,000 bail. The charges against Cage were later dropped.
39. It was a JOKE People!
Cage’s performance in the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man is frequently mocked—and it’s easy to understand why. There’s no other way to put it, the movie, and Cage in particular, is completely bonkers. The film has since become a cult classic because of Cage’s downright bizarre acting, but the actor himself gets angry when people say that the movie is unintentionally funny.
Cage claims that he and the director set out to make a black comedy and that they were in on the joke the entire time. Alright, Nic, whatever you say…
40. Doomed from the Start
Vampire’s Kiss is, hands down, one of the weirdest movies of Cage’s career—and that’s saying something. Originally slated to star Dennis Quaid, the actor dropped out and producers were scrambling to find another star. Eventually, they heard that Cage was interested in the script. They were unsure, but decided to go for it. As one producer put it, “We have no idea what it will be. … But he’ll get the movie made. And he’s always interesting.” Interesting is an understatement…
41. It’s Hard not to Yuck This Yum
In order to get himself “excited” for a love scene in the bizarre film, Cage allegedly asked to have hot yogurt poured all over his toes. Just gonna leave that one there, ask no further questions…
42. Get Away From Me
One scene from Vampire’s Kiss sees a dazed and blood-spattered Cage wandering the streets of New York with a stake, begging strangers to kill him. The bystanders seem confused and horrified by this madman bothering them—and that wasn’t acting. Those were real New Yorkers just going about their day, totally unaware they were in a movie.
43. Thanks a Lot, Nic
Vampire’s Kiss was made on a shoestring and still barely managed to limp over the finish line—and Cage himself didn’t help matters. In one shot, Cage was absent-mindedly whistling Stravinsky’s Petrushka. The shot had to go in the movie, but it turned out that the song was still copyrighted.
Producers had to shell out $10,000 for the rights on an already cash-strapped production. Nice move, Nic.
44. Seriously, He’s Just Committed!
Cage hated his costar Jennifer Beals and didn’t try to hide that fact. He was so cruel to her that she wanted to leave the production. One of the producers actually had to call Beals’ agent and explain (read: lie) that Cage was just really, really deep into his character, and that’s why he was being such a jerk.
45. Real Tears
It’s hard to pick out a single, bizarre moment from Cage’s performance in Vampire’s Kiss, but the scene when he screams “BOOO…HOOOO!” certainly stands out. So what made Cage deliver that insane moment? The script called for him to cry, and he took some “artistic liberties” on what crying looked like.
46. Role of a Lifetime
For all the mockery Vampire’s Kiss receives, Cage absolutely loved it. After filming was complete, he said it totally justified his decision to become an actor, and he continues to say that it’s his favorite of all his movies.
47. Coen Meet Cage
The Coen Brothers are known for drawing from the same well of actors, but after casting Cage in their movie Raising Arizona, they decided once was enough. The Coens are famous for meticulously crafting every aspect of their movies—while Cage is famous for doing whatever the heck he wants. While the two parties were respectful, they never worked together again.
48. Tragic Source
Leaving Las Vegas is the movie that won Cage his Oscar. He plays a suicidal alcoholic, and the movie was based on an autobiographical novel by Jim O’Brien. Tragically, O’Brien never lived to see his work brought to the silver screen. Not long after finding out his book was getting adapted into a movie, O’Brien killed himself.
49. Deep Preparation
Not all of Cage’s work preparing for movies involved pulling teeth and infected acne. He researched his part in Leaving Las Vegas by binge drinking in Dublin for two straight weeks. Once he was good and drunk, he would have his friends videotape him, then he’d go back and study the footage later (presumably while nursing an insane hangover).
50. Back in My Day, There Was No CGI
Taking his craft very seriously, Cage ate a real cockroach for Vampire’s Kiss. He said, “Every muscle in my body didn’t want to do it, but I did it anyway.” Maybe you should have trusted that instinct, Nic…
51. Which Came First, the Cockroach or the Egg?
The infamous cockroach scene wasn’t actually supposed to be in the movie! In the script, Cage was only meant to suck on a raw egg. Cage decided that wasn’t crazy enough, and he actually suggested that he eat the cockroach! Why, Nic…why?
52. Chasing Bugs with Whiskey
Plenty of people were horrified by the idea of Cage eating the cockroach. After failing to talk him out of it, one producer covered her bases by calling a doctor to make sure it was safe. The perplexed physician said he’d probably be fine, but suggested he drink some whiskey right after.
Cage ended up washing out his mouth with 100-proof vodka, but close enough.
53. Stays Calm Under Fudgesical Pressure
One night, while living in Orange County, Cage woke up to find a man who had broken into his house standing over his bed wearing nothing but Cage’s leather jacket and eating a fudgsical. Cage was able to talk the man into leaving his home without any trouble. Just a normal day for Nic.
54. Too Much for Turner
Kathleen Turner had a miserable time filming the movie Peggie Sue Got Married with Cage. She assumed that he’d only been hired because of his relation to the director, Francis Ford Coppola, and she utterly hated his bizarre behavior. She desperately tried to get Coppola to fire him, but to no avail.
55. Holding a Grudge
Apparently, Cage left quite the mark on Turner, because she was still sour even after more than three decades! Turner lambasted Cage in her 2008 memoir, claiming that he’d stolen a chihuahua and was arrested for drunk driving twice during filming. Cage ended up suing her and her publisher for libel—a case he easily won, seeing as she’d publicly admitted that the chihuahua story was a flat-out lie.