Seth Rogen says Nicolas Cage wanted to play 'a white Jamaican guy' in The Green Hornet
UPDATE: Nicolas Cage issued a statement to EW via a representative in response to Seth Rogen's account of the actor's audition for The Green Hornet.
"I like Seth," the statement says. "He's a funny guy and clearly a good storyteller. I wish him luck with his book."
EARLIER: Hopefully we never run out of Nicolas Cage stories.
Seth Rogen told a new one on The Howard Stern Show this week while promoting his new essay collection, Yearbook. According to Rogen, Cage expressed interest in appearing in The Green Hornet, the 2011 superhero film Rogen starred in alongside Jay Chou. Naturally, Cage had some very out-there ideas about what kind of character he should play.
Cage's first idea was to appear as a bald character with hair tattooed onto his cranium. But before Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, had even wrapped their heads around the suggestion, Cage changed his mind — because he had become interested in trying the look in real life. Rogen said he laughed "hysterically" on the phone before realizing Cage wasn't kidding.
So then Cage came up with another concept: "a white Jamaican guy."
"It set off a lot of alarms to us," Rogen recalled. "Not that a white Jamaican guy is bad, but doing the accent and all that stuff seemed like a world of trouble."
Nevertheless, Rogen said, Sony chief Amy Pascal invited him, Goldberg, and Cage to her house to discuss the role. Rogen told Goldberg beforehand that he was nervous about Cage performing this character because he wouldn't know how to react, but Goldberg assured him that Cage would just be discussing his idea, not performing.
Goldberg was wrong.
"We show up at the house and within 60 seconds we were all seated in the living room as he stood in front of us reciting a monologue in a Jamaican accent," Rogen said. "We were all just like, what's happening? A monologue, I should add, that was not in the script — nor did it have anything to do with the script. At which point I was like, I don't think he's read the script! There was no indication he had any idea what film we were trying to make, other than it was called The Green Hornet and there was a villain in it."
Rogen said he didn't know how to react, which wasn't the response Cage had been looking for. He apparently left the gathering shortly after. But the incident came up again, years later, when Rogen and Goldberg were in talks to produce a new film of Cage's. In the intervening years, Rogen's frequent collaborator James Franco had played a tattooed white rapper character in Harmony Korine's film Spring Breakers.
"We got a call like, Nic Cage wants to talk to you guys," Rogen recounted. "We thought it was about the movie, but we sit down and right away he's just like, 'Did you tell James about that meeting we had? The Jamaican meeting?' We were like, no, I don't know. He was like, 'Because that guy in Spring Breakers, was that based on the character I did for you guys?' I was like, no, absolutely not, I think it was actually based on a Florida rapper. He very clearly didn't believe me, that was apparent."
In Rogen's defense, Korine and Franco have always cited rappers like Riff Raff and Dangeruss as the primary inspirations for Spring Breakers' Alien (which hasn't always pleased Riff Raff).
Watch the video above for more from Rogen.