Nicolas Cage Once Hired Someone to Be His "Drinking Coach" for a Role

The Oscar winner definitely goes the extra mile to bring his characters to life.

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 04, 2018 4:12 PMTags
Nicolas CageJason Kempin/Getty Images

Nicolas Cage goes the extra mile for his characters. 

The Oscar winner has had plenty of unforgettable roles in the course of his multi-decade career and, thanks to a video for GQ, Cage has revealed some of the more unique ways he channeled those men for the silver screen. 

When it came time for his Oscar-winning performance as suicidal alcoholic Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas, the actor explained that he studied past alcohol performances by other actors and drew inspiration from those characters. However, upon a suggestion from his cousin Roman Coppola, he hired Tony Dingman, a poet who Cage said was "at that time very drunk," to be his "drinking coach."

The actor recalled Dingman crawled up in a fetal position in his trailer and said he would watch him. "He would say the most poetic drunken things," Cage said, noting one of his lines in the film, "You do not kick the bar. You lean into the bar."


"He would just spout these things out and of course I put them all in the movie," he said. 

As Terence McDonagh, the bad lieutenant in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Cage said, "I really wanted to challenge Werner [Herzog, the director]."

Cage continued, "I wanted to be the California Klaus Kinski. I wanted to go all out and even scare him at times to get to the core of that character."

So, to get into the headspace of his drug-addicted character, the actor went through the motions. 

"I remember I had this vile of something called inositol, which is like a saccharine substitute," Cage explained. "It looks like coke, but it's not. It's sugar really or sweetener."

The actor said he would psych himself up and snort it to try to get ready for a scene. "Everyone's kind of getting a little flipped out about my psych-up process to get this scene because I'm going nuts and I'm high on 'coke.'"

Right before action, Werner asked him what was in the vile. While he he was completely dry on the film, Cage didn't want to ruin the illusion before the scene began. However, the director had broken Cage's concentration, so he screamed at him. 

"Then they said action and I was the guy."