Snuff movies and pornography are very much on NICOLAS CAGE's mind these days. The actor — and concerned father - has had to delve into some very dark corners fOI' latest 8mm. Words: James Mottram
WHETHER A TEEN PRODIGY 0R OSCAR-WINNER. Nicolas Cage has never shied away from confronting his parts head-on. From his turn as Sailor in Wild At Heart to his role as the suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas, Cage has taken his roles to obsessive lengths. But hardcore pornography? That‘s stretching it.
‘I wouldn‘t do that because I have children. and I would never want them to see something like that,‘ he says indignantly.
The concerned father? It‘s a performance, until now, we‘ve yet to see Nicolas Cage play (unless you count his star-making turn in the Coen Brothers‘ Raising Arizona). Nevertheless, the ever-diplomatic Cage — dressed in a sharp grey suit and purple shirt, looking like he‘s stepped out of his previous movie, Snake Eyes — lets the mask down for a moment. A glimpse of his real, paternal side, emerges, and it‘s convincing. Both he and actress wife Patricia Arquette have a child each from previous relationships; his — named Weston — was with ex-girlfriend Christina Fuhon.
Kiddies and porn are on the agenda today because Cage has just wallowed in the mire in Joel Schumacher‘s downbeat 8mm. He plays private investigator Tom Welles, hired to find out if the death of a young teenage girl,
'When I see a young
depicted on a so-called snuff movie, is indeed genuine. It‘s a step down from his recent spate of high-octane action ﬂicks — The Rock, Con Air. Faee/Off— which moved Cage into the S20 million a picture bracket. He now prefers to take his work in a more humanitarian direction, and saw 8mm as a chance to splice entertainment with a cathartic response to true-life violence.
‘The character was to me symbolic of what I was feeling at certain times as a parent in America watching the news,’ Cage explains. ‘When I see a young person get kidnapped and murdered, I feel very angry and helpless, and I don‘t know what to do about it, and it frustrates me.‘
Admitting that there is nothing, as a parent,
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he can do (‘especially with the Internet‘), Cage is aware that some parents may not wish their children to see 8mm. ‘It‘s not a standard action movie, this is intense subject matter. But if there‘s a 17-year-old who‘s thinking about running away from home, perhaps it‘s not such a bad idea for them to see this film.‘ he says, referring to the film‘s sub-theme of homeless, disenfranchised children.
Known for his meticulous preparation for roles (he had two front teeth pulled, without Novacaine, for Birdy). Cage denies his own form of over-stimulation by delving into dirty mags. ‘Because I was playing a character that was the opposite of the world I was exploring. I didn‘t really have to go to S&M clubs or see snuff movies or look at pornography. My character was an alien in that world. I had to be just surprised by it all, with whatever was on that day. I was a conservative, professional family man. But whenever you have to do violent scenes in a movie, you have to trick your mind to make you think you‘re really there.‘
Despite his ability at keeping art and life distinctly separate, Cage is primed at defending the film‘s mud-slinging. ‘I don‘t think 8mm is about the porno industry per se. It‘s about a small sub-culture that‘s into these
people that he wasn‘t able to save.‘
L'niting on screen for the first time with his wife (Arquette plays a woman who meets Cage when her father suffers a cardiac arrest). the actor admits to pre-shoot nerves.
‘We kept it very separate on the set. but I was happy to be able to observe Patricia in the work environment.‘ he says. ‘At first I was a little nervous because I was afraid there‘d be some tension there. that we wouldn‘t know how to relax with one another. and there was in the beginning. Slowly that sort of got more easy?
Cage‘s bid, meanwhile. to don the red cape and resurrect the Man of Steel has been put on ice. Since Tim Burton‘s reported disagreement with Clerks director Kevin Smith (who drafted the proposed Superman Lives). Cage openly admits to dusting his hands of the project. “The Superman project is being put on hold indefinitely. ‘ he says, ‘and I‘ve since chosen to pretty much walk away from it until it becomes more of a reality.‘
Instead, Cage has decided to be re-united with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. the man responsible for casting him in The Rock and precipitating his action hero status. The pair are to collaborate on Gone In Sixty Seconds. a piece Cage describes as ‘a fun ride. a movie
person get kidnapped and murdered, I feel very angry and helpless, and it frustrates me.’ Nicolas cage
dark, twisted, perverted things they do to one other. This side of it is dangerous and frightening. Even the snuff film itself is a symbol for a larger problem — the killing of innocent children in my country.‘
Cage‘s next assignment is no less bleak by all accounts, dealing once again with death. Scripted by Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader. Bringing Out The Dead sees Cage directed by Martin Scorsese, in the first collaboration between the writer and director since The Last Temptation Of Christ.
‘It‘s about a paramedic who‘s been working in Manhattan for five years,‘ says Cage, ‘and he‘s burnt out. He‘s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. And he‘s starting to have hallucinations of all the dead
that a lot of people will enjoy‘. Paying tribute to Bruckheimer for recognising his potential in the action genre. Cage‘s polite nature indicates that his wildman days — a time when he was known for trashing his trailer on The Cotton Club in a fit of pique — are over.
‘Well, I‘ve grown up. I‘m 35 now.‘ he answers in his defence. ‘I‘ve gone on to make comedies. and dramas, and action films. Earlier in my work, I was living out my parts and being more rebellious in my personal life. Now, I‘m still able to have a sane and sensible life, but able to get wild at work.‘
Spoken like a true parent.
8mm opens on Fri 23 Apr. See review, page 22