Credit: Saban Films

In new thriller The Trust (in theaters and on VOD May 13), Nicolas Cage is a corrupt Las Vegas cop who, together with another policeman played by Elijah Wood, plots to break into a safe owned by local criminals. Cage is full of praise for both Wood and for the film’s directors, Alex and Benjamin Brewer. But the Oscar winner seems likely to best remember the movie’s shoot for the opportunity it gave him to appear on screen with one of his childhood idols, Nutty Professor director and star Jerry Lewis.

“Jerry is someone I grew up with,” Cage reflects. “He’s somebody that was my first love in terms of film. As a child, I could not wait for him to come on my television set in the movies he had made. I saw The Nutty Professor when I think I was four years old. He was a motivating force for me. Jerry Lewis and Marlon Brando were my two big influences.”

One day, though, Lewis became more than just an idol, calling Cage with an invitation. “He said, ‘I just want you to know that there’s an old-timer from the other side who appreciates it. I’ve got a great show in Las Vegas. Sammy Davis, Jr., he and I are going to do it, it’s going to be terrific. Why don’t you come out?’ I took my brother with me and we watched the show. It was extraordinary. It was absolutely on the point in every direction. He really is a maestro, and Sammy Davis was great as well. So, then, he had an after-party at his suite. He came out in a kimono with tennis shoes and socks. I was terrified. You’ve got to understand, he was — is — my hero. It was like meeting a cinema god. I looked at him and I thought I was going to pass out. I said, ‘Well, you know, Jerry, it’s just you and Marlon Brando.’ He took about a two-minute beat, in perfect Jerry Lewis timing, and then we went, ‘Well, Brando’s good also.’ [Laughs]”

Cage and Lewis stayed in touch after that initial meeting. “Then I sort of relocated to Nevada,” says Cage. “I found out we were neighbors for a moment in time [and] I would invite him out to dinner. When The Trust happened, I said, ‘Jerry, I don’t normally want to put people on the spot but one of my dreams is to be in a movie with you. I’d love to construct a part where you and I can be on camera together.’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ Which was like, ‘Wow!’ So, he did us the favor. He played the part of my father in the movie. For me, it was one of the greatest days of my life and certainly the greatest day of my career.”

The Trust is distributed by Saban Films and is available to watch now via DirecTV. You can see a trailer for the film above.