Nicolas Cage Addresses Why He Took Roles in Some Mediocre Films

The real estate market can be unkind

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage, flanked by Nicolas Cage.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Last year saw the publication of Keith Phipps’s book Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career, which explored changes in the film world through the prism of Nicolas Cage’s filmography. There are few actors whose body of work could serve as emblematic for an entire industry; Cage is one of them. And Cage’s career has offered plenty to study; the podcast Travolta/Cage also explores the highlights and the more obscure films from his filmography.

Cage was the subject of a recent 60 Minutes profile in which Sharyn Alfonsi observed that his filmography is “almost its own genre.” Among the subjects he addressed were his dinosaur-inspired choice of pets and his decision to own a gold Lamborghini in homage to legendary director Federico Fellini. During that segment, his — shall we say — prolific maneuvers later in his career came up. Was that due to financial troubles?

“I was overinvested in real estate,” Cage told Alfonsi. “It wasn’t because I spent $80 on an octopus. The real estate market crashed, and I couldn’t get out in time.”

All told, Cage explained, he ended up owing $6 million. He noted that he paid his creditors back and never declared bankruptcy — but was relatively candid about some of the films he made as a result. “It wasn’t blue chip, but it was still work,” Cage told 60 Minutes.

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In his explanation, Cage split the difference between the quality of some of these films and his work in them. “Even if the movie was crummy, they know I’m not phoning in — that I care, every time,” he said.

Near the end of the segment, he discussed — in this reporter’s opinion, anyway — one of his best performances, in the film Pig. “I felt that I was doing exactly what I care about,” Cage said. (Seriously. If you haven’t watched it yet, watch Pig.) And it’s a reminder that, whatever the decade may be, odds are good that you’ll find great work from Cage in there.

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