In control of being out of control
A tribute to Nicolas Cage
Released from prison, he’s handed a snakeskin jacket. And in David Lynch’s 1990 classic, »Wild At Heart«, it is tailor made for an artist who sheds skins seamlessly – transforming the essence of his being. Because Nicolas Cage does not act. He does not lie. He is.
Yeah, we all know. He’s really a ›Coppola‹. But from the ›non-acting‹ branch, and from modest means. Unlike his famous uncle, Francis, his father August was a literature professor - and a man he calls the biggest career influence for exposing him to films that would, years later, inform his style as an actor. Son of a teacher, and high-school dropout – he wanted to pursue the arts. Years later, as voracious reader and self-professed lover of ›words‹, the early decision to change his name to »Cage« in order to make his own reputation is an unsurprisingly fascinating choice for an artist who has never be contained by one – and for a being, who at his core, is wild at heart.
With performances ranging from cinema verité to the operatic, he breaks molds like the creative greats in all art forms – from Edvard Munch to Stravinsky- as he embraces the entire spectrum of his craft and informs it with his unique choices and unapologetic realizations. And like those icons of modern art, and classical music, Nicolas Cage is an icon of modern cinema. With over 80 credits to his name, he is one of the most prolific actors of our time. His first onscreen acting credit in 1981 is auspiciously titled »Best of Times«. His first ‘character’ credit is as ›Nicolas‹. Future generations will curate history - and Nicolas’ place in the archives of the best of our times. »Fast Times at Ridgemont High« marked the second and last time he would be credited as ›Coppola‹. In 1983, »Valley Girl« marked his first public step as an autonomous artist. Following formative performances in his early years, 1987s »Raising Arizona« brought him his first nomination for an acting award. To date: 1 Oscar, 40 other wins, and 60 nominations would follow.
As would a career that has defied all odds. In 1996, befittingly, he won an Oscar for his role as a gambler of life in »Leaving Las Vegas«. On the map and in the spotlight, he defied Hollywood type-casting, and boldly jumped genres. Growing up watching Sean Connery as James Bond, he would now star alongside him in »The Rock« marking the birth of a global action star. Ever the artist, with 1997s action flick »Face/Off« he borrowed from his earlier work on 1988s »Vampire’s Kiss«, where he drew from his childhood at 5 years old with his dad - watching films like »The Cabinent of Dr. Caligari«.»It’s all about the memory of Nosferatu; that Germanic expressionistic acting style.« Another mold broken. Action star redefined.
His private life has been mythologized and fictionalized by TMZ gossip culture. But like an enigmatic emperor, he’s kept quiet as his continues to build his path, undefeated by media storms or judgments that have no authentic bearing on his craft. Because craft is in his genes. He descends from a lineage of artists. From his German ancestry, his mother is a former dancer. Upon seeing him in »Wild at Heart« she remarked. »Look how you’re moving. All that strange energy is like modern dance.« His Italian grandfather was a composer. He considers music the highest art form. Avant-garde pioneer, John Cage – his unofficial namesake – described music as ‘a purposeless play’ »An affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we‘re living.« And Nicolas channels that very spirit of his pedigree as a master of his own art form.
I, Nicolas. The Enigmatic Artist. In control, breaking molds, shedding skins, and wild at heart.