The New York Times just published the magnum opus of Nicolas Cage interviews: a 6,000-or-so word, annotated conversation between the caricature-like actor and Times magazine writer David Marchese that's absolutely worth the long read.
In it, Cage proves not only that his National Treasure role might not actually be very far from reality—the man has, for real, actually attempted a "grail quest," and at one point owned a $276,000 dinosaur skull—but also that his bizarre public persona is far more thought out than you might necessarily give him credit for.
Some of it is absurd celebrity-ism from a man born into Hollywood royalty, sure. Yet some of it, too, is just a dude asking for a little private time to grieve his breakup sorrows at karaoke, and to hang out with his kid and read books. There is a man behind the memes.
For everyone who hasn't quite got the time to read the Times' truly deep dive, here are the best lines from the conversation. They'd be just as ridiculous even with context.
- "It was more like primal-scream therapy." (Cage, by the way, is not stoked that his "Purple Rain" karaoke sesh went as viral as it did.)
- "This is going to sound pretentious, but I was, quote, trying to invent my own mythology, unquote, around myself."
- "I did have two king cobras, and they were not happy. They would try to hypnotize me by showing me their backs, and then they’d lunge at me."
- "Initially I wanted them to leave me in the bear suit to burn me."
- "Say you’re playing a demon biker with an ancient spirit. What power objects could you find that might trick your imagination? Would you find an antique from an ancient pyramid? Maybe a little sarcophagus that’s a greenish color and looks like King Tut? Would you sew that into your jacket and know that it’s right next to you when the director says 'action'? Could you open yourself to that power?"
- "What is an octopus, $80?"
- "The dinosaur skull was an unfortunate thing, because I did spend $276,000 on that."
- "Yeah, if you go to Glastonbury and go to the Chalice Well, there’s a spring that does taste like blood."
- "I wanted to have the mystery of the old stars, always preserved in an enigmatic aura."
- "Rob Zombie once said to me, 'Be as normal in your own life as you can be, so you can be as messed up as you want in your art.'"
- "I just want to look at my aquarium, look at my sea horse, read my Murakami, watch Bergman."
- "I became a man in New Orleans, if you know what I mean."
- "As a child I was always shocked when my father would take me to a doctor and they didn’t tell me that my blood was green and I had 20 ribs, that I wasn’t some anomaly from outer space."
And with that, let Cage's wisdom guide you through life—to live each day as though you've got the power of a "little sarcophagus" right next to your heart.