What the Hell Happened to Nicolas Cage?
It may seem strange to ask “What the hell happened to Nicolas Cage?” He certainly isn’t missing. He appears in several movies every year. But the Oscar-winning actor has gone from being a box office draw to a national punchline who can’t say “no” to any movie.
What the hell happened?
Nicolas Cage is part of the Coppola clan. Francis Ford Coppola is his uncle. Talia Shire is his aunt and Sofia Coppola and Jason Schwartzman are among his cousins. To avoid the appearance of nepotism, he changed his last name from Coppola to Cage early in his career. He based his name on Marvel superhero, Luke Cage aka Power Man.
Cage’s earliest role was as an uncredited extra in the Robert Redford film, Brubaker in 1980. In 1981, Cage appeared with Crispin Glover in a youth-oriented TV show called Best of Times. The show was not picked up.
Cage was originally cast in the Judge Reinhold role. But since he was still a minor and could not shoot at night, he was given a smaller role as one of Reinhold’s friends. Fast Times was the only time Cage was credited as Nicolas Coppola in a film.
In 1983, Cage had his first major role in the teen rom-com, Valley Girl.
Deborah Foreman starred as a valley girl who falls for a Hollywood “punk” played by Cage. It was a very 80’s take on Romeo and Juliet directed by Martha Coolidge, a New York filmmaker who was recruited to Hollywood by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Entertainment.
Coolidge spent three years researching a rock-and-roll love story for Zoetrope, but the project fell through. Years later, a screen-writer brought her the script for Valley Girl because “it was about a girl” and there weren’t many female directors at the time.
Valley Girl had a miniscule budget and only two weeks of pre-production. The producers gave Coolidge nearly free rein to make the film she wanted so long as she didn’t go over-budget and included four scenes with naked breasts.
During casting, Coolidge says she rejected all of the male members of the Brat Pack. “All those ‘Brat Packers,’ or whatever, they came and I rejected all of them. I almost cast Judd Nelson but I got so tired of all those pretty boys that I walked over to the reject pile, found a picture of Nic Cage and said, ‘Find me people that look like this.'”
At the time, Cage was living out of his car. But Valley Girl helped put him on the map. It got positive reviews and was a hit at the box office.
Later that year, Cage appeared opposite Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke and Diane Lane in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish.
Coppola directed two films based on novels by author S. E. Hinton. The first adaptation was The Outsiders which was also released in 1983. Cage auditioned for Dillon’s role in The Outsiders, but he didn’t get it. He was offered Emilio Estevez‘s role, but turned it down.
Instead, Cage was cast in his uncle’s less successful follow-up to The Outsiders. Rumble Fish was the more progressive of the two films. It proved divisive to critics and received mostly negative reviews upon its release. Over time, it has come to be more respected. Rumble Fish flopped at the box office.
Posted on February 9, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged city of angels, con air, face off, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Francis Ford Coppola, ghost rider, honeymoon in vegas, leaving las vegas, moonstruck, national treasure, nicolas cage, Peggy Sue Got Married, raising arizona, Superman, the rock, valley girl. Bookmark the permalink. 301 Comments.