The Reddit celebrity AMA—once a vital and intimate perk of the message board site’s identity—has become a fairly stock part of the Hollywood promotional apparatus over the last few years: PR-filtered questions being responded to with PR-filtered answers from the famouses in question. (Hey, kids! Who wants to talk about Rampart?!) It’s rote, in other words.
But, then, very few things are rote when put in the hands of Nic Cage.
Cage hopped on Reddit today, spurred by his upcoming The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent—in which he plays “Nick Cage,” a washed-up movie star—to field the internet’s questions. And, true to form, it was exactly what you’d want from Cage: Endlessly thoughtful, a bit eclectic, and shockingly warm, humble, and sincere.
Even the meme-y bits, as when he was asked about his feelings toward bees, presumably as a reference to the end of Neil LaBute’s much-derided Wicker Man remake:
Yes. I would have to say they’re my favorite insect. They make us honey. Bees, and then the firefly. And ants are interesting. Bumble bees are quite adorable. Don’t get me started on the praying mantis.
I told David Cronenberg once that the praying mantis was the most ferocious of the insects and he so said no, and I said what is, and he said the dragon fly larvae and he said that the beast in the Alien movies was designed after the dragon fly larvae because it shoots its teeth out and when it attacks.
Or, how about Nicolas Cage with an answer about his favorite media that somehow encompasses both The Brothers Karamazov and a very expensive prom date?
I will say that James Dean’s performance as Cal in East Of Eden is largely the reason I became a film actor. His role in that is one of my favorite characters in cinema. But then we can go all the way to Rasputin or we can go to Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri Karamazov is one my favorite characters in literature. I love him so much because he’s so happy and he has no money. He’s just living it up. He spend all his money trying to get the girl. I did the same thing once. I was very Dmitri Karamazov in high school. The most beautiful girl in high school who was a grade older than me invited me to the prom but I had no money. My grandmother gave each of us a little bond. My older brother bought a car. My second oldest brother bought some stereo equipment. And I splashed out on a chauffeur-driven limousine, a tuxedo and a four course meal at Le Dome on Sunset blvd. The car was $2000, the stereo was $2000, and my prom night was $2000 and man, that was money well spent. THAT’s Dmitri Karamazov.
Or, Nicolas Cage answering, “What’s in the can he ‘recharged’ with in the very odd Willy’s Wonderland?”
The can question is an interesting one, and I hesitate to answer it for you because your relationship with the movie is far more important than my relationship with the movie and so you as the audience member can imagine and surmise whatever you want to be in that can. That is a far better answer and reason for the can than anything I could tell you. I want YOUR opinion as to what was in the can, because that was the right opinion.
That’s in addition to more normal AMA stuff, like talking about his favorites of his own performances (Leaving Las Vegas, Pig, Bringing Out The Dead, all pretty impeccable picks), whether he’d do a Face/Off 2 (“Yes”), and which directors he hasn’t worked yet with that he’d like to (Christopher Nolan, Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, and Spike Lee, which, yeah, we’d watch any of those).
The biggest appeal, though, is just how clearly Cage’s most fascinating trait—his total willingness to consider everything—comes through in his replies. Some AMAs blanch all the personality from their subject; this one projects it with all the force of Cage’s subdued but still fascinating brand, while also including the bit where he reveals how much he loves Spirited Away, and that time Adam West negged him for doing a version of him in Kick-Ass.