Nicolas Cage said it was a “deeply humbling experience” to send up his outsize public persona by playing a version of himself in his new film.
The Oscar-winning actor, 58, best known for roles in Leaving Las Vegas, National Treasure, Raising Arizona, Adaptation, Face/Off and Con Air, stars in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, playing a version of himself unfulfilled by his career and facing financial ruin while distanced from his teenage daughter, who thinks he is a self-involved narcissist.
Asked why he did not avoid a role that depicts him in such a way, Cage told the PA news agency: “I did run. I said, ‘No, no, no, no.’
“And then (the film’s director) Tom Gormican had his fishing line and he reeled me back in with a letter, which was a sensitive letter and it was an intelligent letter, and I knew then that he wasn’t trying to do a kind of Saturday Night Live sketch that was mocking so-called Nick Cage, but he had some genuine interest in the earlier work.
“And one of my mantras is the very thing you’re afraid of – more often than not, as long as you’re not hurting yourself, or someone else – is probably the thing you should move towards because you may learn something from the experience or grow in some way.
“And I can tell you that this was a deeply humbling experience, but there was no muscle in my body that told me I should play Nick Cage in a movie.”
But Cage, who has sons Kal-El, 16, and Weston, 31, from previous relationships and is expecting a baby with wife Riko Shibata, said he did object to the idea of being portrayed as an absent parent.
He said: “The big discrepancy in the movie from the real me is that there’s no version of Nick Cage that doesn’t want to spend time with his children, and my family always comes first.
“I said that to the director and he said, ‘Yeah, but this is a movie and we need this character to evolve. He has to go from being a narcissistic, career-minded actor into a sensitive family man.’ So I said, ‘OK, well, that’s a good argument. This is a movie, this isn’t really me.’
“The flavour of the film that does speak to the real me is the comedy. I do like to make jokes and to be goofy at home and make my wife laugh, make my boys laugh, and so that element, that sense of humour, I think, was spot on.
“But, as you say over in the UK, ‘taking the piss’, that’s really what I was doing. I was setting myself up. I was taking the piss out of myself, and that is always good mojo.
“You know, you can’t get too high on your own supply. You can’t become self important and turn into a diva. And I think that was humbling for me to do this.”
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent is out in UK cinemas on April 22.