Think we're kidding?
With The Sorcerer's Apprentice opening tomorrow, we got to thinking about the utter awesomeness of Nicolas Cage. Sure, he's been in the headlines for other reasons over the past few years, but we couldn't ignore the fact that even in his worst movies the guy always delivers something unexpected and unique. Plus, he spends his time offscreen doing unusual stuff like buying castles, marrying Elvis' daughter and naming his son after Superman's original Kryptonian name. Again, awesome.
Disagree? Then read on...
1. Coppola Shmoppola: Despite his own self-styled last name, Cage is part of a cinematic dynasty. His uncle is Francis Ford Coppola, acclaimed director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, one cousin is director Sofia Coppola and another is actor Jason Schwartzman, and his aunt is Rocky star Talia Shire, just to name a few relations. But to establish himself on his own merits and avoid claims of nepotism, young Nicolas Coppola—as he was billed in his first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High—adopted the last name "Cage" from Marvel Comics character Luke "Power Man" Cage, which is totally bad-ass when you think about it. (As is the fact that he, like the late Michael Jackson, was once married to Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie.)
2. The Man Is Dedicated: Sure, on the one hand he learned to play the mandolin for his role in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which is noteworthy. But for his role in the 1989 film Vampire Kiss, he ate a live cockroach. And apparently, it took three takes. He later said of the experience, "Every muscle in my body didn't want to do it, but I did it anyway." The cockroaches, we're sure, felt the same way.
3. He's Not Afraid of Prison—or Pirates: During the Somali Pirate Crisis of 2009, our favorite U.N. Ambassador on Drugs and Crime paid a visit to some imprisoned pirates in Kenya to try to sort out the whole mess. He also established a fund to help former child soldiers, among other charitable works.
4. Well, Have You Ever Owned a Castle? Yep, along with his dinosaur skull and a house with a Disney-inspired theme, Cage owned an actual castle. In Germany. True, he had to sell it after coming up against some financial troubles, but from 2006 to 2009, Cage was the proud owner of Schloss Neidstein, an authentic Bavarian castle almost 500 years old. The upside? He still owns another castle in Bath, England.
5. He's Super! For years, Cage was rumored to be in line to play Superman in a Tim Burton reboot of the film series that ultimately never happened. While you ponder a film in which he plays the most powerful person on the planet—and trust us, we do after seeing pictures like this that supposedly show Cage as a glam rock, long-haired version of the character—this also helps explain why he named his son Kal-El, the original Kryptonian name of Superman.
6. That Dulcet Voice: He's one of the best whisperers out there. Before Christian Bale became the Dark Knight and before Alec Baldwin had Jack Donaghy, Cage sought to add sonorous gravitas to his voice—as well as any number of crazy accents he's uncorked in films such as Wild at Heart and Con Air. When discussing what it takes to be a successful actor, Cage has said that all great actors had recognizable voices, and as a result, he stylized his own to be distinctive. Have to say, it worked.
7. Raising Arizona: Cage, Holly Hunter and the Coen Brothers have all gone on to great things since their 1987 collaboration—Academy awards for one—but has anything topped lines like, "Prison life is structured—more'n some people care for," or "There's what's right and there's what's right and never the twain shall meet"? The only answer is no.
8. He Gave Us Johnny Depp: Back when Captain Jack Sparrow was a struggling musician, Cage saw the potential for big-screen greatness. According to Cage, "I remember when I met Johnny Depp...He had no idea he could be an actor. I said, 'I really think you are an actor, that you have that ability.' I sent him to my agent and he has gone on to carve out a successful career." That alone makes him awesome in our book.
9. Undeniable Box-Office Draw: Whatever your take on his headline-grabbing developments, movies starring Cage have brought in more than $1 billion over the last decade. In fact, in the last three years alone, arguably the height of his notoriety, Cage's movies have grossed more than $400 million at the box office. Looks like eccentricity pays pretty well.
10. You Tell Us! Now it's your turn. Sound off below on why you think Cage is awesome. Or maybe you disagree? Get the discussion going!