Nicolas Coppola in Long Beach, California, 7 January 1964; nephew of the
director Francis Ford Coppola.
Married the actress Patricia Arquette, 1995; son, Weston Coppola Cage, by
former girlfriend, the actress Kristina Fulton.
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.
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
Best Actor, New York Film Critics, Golden Globe for best drama actor,
Screen Actors Guild Award, National Society of Film Critics, and Academy
Leaving Las Vegas
Brillstein/Grey, 9200 Sunset Boulevard, #428, Los Angeles, CA 90069,
The Best of Times (for TV)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Heckerling) (as Brad's bud)
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)
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.
Robb, Brian, Nicolas Cage: Hollywood's Wild Talent , London, 1998.
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.