Writer/director Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent looks like it might be one of the most fun movies anyone has ever made, with Nicolas Cage playing a loosely fictionalized version of himself (named Nick Cage) as he befriends a mysterious rich fan (Pedro Pascal) who turns out to be a violent criminal. Somewhat unsurprisingly, though, the goth icon had to be convinced to take on such a meta role that seems largely based around (lovingly) poking fun at him.
During a fun and far-ranging chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Cage explained that he got a letter from Gormican that explained the pitch, specifically that it came from a “real interest in some of the earlier work” and not that it was trying to mock fake Nick Cage or real Nicolas Cage. He says he was also drawn to a sequence that eventually got cut out of the movie where Nick Cage lives through major moments in his career but done in the style of The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari, which sounds amazing, but the studio believed it was “too far out for audiences.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t weird stuff in the movie, though, as you’ll know if you’ve seen the recently released trailer. There’s a moment in there where Cage plays a digitally de-aged version of Nick Cage, which the real Cage says he “really responded to” because they were able to capture the “obnoxious, irreverent, arrogant madman” that he really used to be. So it’s Cage playing a fake version of his younger fake self, but with the full-on manic energy that has helped solidify the meme status of some of his work (similarly, there’s a reference to The Wicker Man that Cage himself came up with for this movie).
Nick Cage, in the movie, is at a point where he feels like his career has dried up, but real Cage tells THR that he doesn’t feel like that, even if he knows that people might perceive him that way. He joked that he thought they’d have to rewrite this whole movie once Pig became a surprise hit. But, in reality, he says that he’s never stopped working because he prefers having work to “sitting by a pool getting bombed on mai tais and Dom Perignon.” (Also because of his major financial issues.)
He likes the structure of having work, since it gives him a routine, and he even says that there isn’t any movies in his long and weird career that he regrets. “Every movie I’ve made that hasn’t worked has all led me to this place where I’m at now,” he says, “where I can do a movie like The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent and I can tell the story with some integrity and authenticity to it.” (He’s right, the plot wouldn’t really work with any other actor.)
Other highlights from the interview: Cage responding to a question about superhero movies by saying that he knows every celebrity has to have an opinion, with his opinion being the very gracious: “I certainly think there’s grate value in that they’re bringing happiness to people.” Also, he touches on the strained relationship he has with his beloved cat Merlin, who is upset over a new little dog that Cage has. Still, the cat possesses “a real, almost human level of affection,” making him “almost like a son.”