Nicolas Cage is an enigmatic actor whose hits are big and whose misses are gargantuan. Normally, you can recognize which is which far in advance, with just a quick glimpse of a film’s trailer. But his Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans has me perplexed. His character seems so unhinged, and Cage seems to be having so much fun, that no matter whether the film is great or gawdawful, I’m genuinely intrigued. There’s a thin line between overacting (bad) and acting that you’re overacting (bizarrely genius), and Cage seems to be straddling it.
Cage recently chatted with the movie website Dark Horizons, and though the interviewer laid off of Cage’s off-screen legal imbroglios, he did encourage the Oscar winner to discuss his craft. Since Cage is a notoriously elusive interview (at least for EW), I only wished Dark Horizons had prodded him more on his career zags and what he looks for in a role. Cage put a happy face on his dips into mainstream and independent fare, explaining that “I need to be a little bit fearful in order to go into it with some energy. You know, I feel that if you’re somewhat uncomfortable or nervous about a role, that means you should do it.” But that sounds actorspeak-y to me. In films like Adaptation, Matchstick Men, and The Weather Man, his vulnerable characters really connected. But there have been other movies that are so schlocky, not only in execution but on a basic script level, as to question what attracts Cage in the first place. Disappointed critics debate his talent and lament his drive, but that’s only because his talent has frequently been so tantalizingly great.
Cage has a bundle of films in the can (including Kick-Ass), so you can expect to see his many sides, shapes, and tastes in the next year. Which actor are you hoping to see? And what are your hopes for Bad Lieutenant? Did Cage’s online interview help explain his career since Leaving Last Vegas? As an actor, where does Cage go from here?