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Is acting art? Nicolas Cage and Morgan Freeman sound off

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Art or not art? That is the question that Nicolas Cage, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz, and Peter Sarsgaard ponder in the highly amusing video below, part 1 in a series from The Hollywood Reporter. As soon as the matter is raised (off-screen, presumably by the reporter moderating the roundtable), Cage bristles a bit. “What is it with the word art? Define art,” he says to Firth who, in turn, gives a perfectly reasonable response about the subjectivity of the word.

It’s not that big of a shocker that Cage, an actor known for the eccentric passion with which he throws himself into his roles, would be sensitive to the suggestion that what he does for a living is not, in fact, the stuff of Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso. Still, it’s absolutely fascinating to watch how the conversation unfolds and how he just won’t let go — even after Freeman posits that acting is a craft that depends first and foremost on the work of a writer and therefore, might not be art. Cage takes Freeman’s point, only to follow it up with this: “But isn’t there music within you that compels you to speak the words a certain way?” Who but Nic Cage would formulate that thought in such a way?

All the while, Waltz looks slightly pained and bored by it all, as if thinking to himself, “Oh those pathetic Anglo-American Philistines!” Finally, he offers his own opinion: “I would think that it’s the result that makes the art and not necessarily the process that leads to it.”

So where do you fall in this great question of important ontological weight, PopWatchers? Is acting art? Can it be both a craft and an art? Which of Nicolas Cage’s performances qualify as art? I’d argue that many do, including…Con Air! That’s right. I said it. That movie rules. “Why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box?”

Oh, and be sure to check out the second part of the interview, in which Cage imitates his Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans helmer Werner Herzog (AWESOME!); and the third, which features him saying that every filmmaker should just let Morgan Freeman do whatever the hell he needs to do when he walks on set. Dammit. (My paraphrasing, not Nic’s.)