‘Lighten up,' everyone was saying to Nicolas Cage after he won his Best Actor Oscar for his unforgiving turn as the alcoholic writer defiantly drinking himself to death in ‘Leaving Las Vegas.'
Many of those flirting with Cage because of his elevation to Academy Award consideration did not know him well and were convinced he needed a respite from his dip into the dark side. He says he was ‘having a blast'. His character was free and loose, not hanging on to branches anymore.
These days neither is Cage who, at 32, is one of the edgiest and accomplished of the Brat Pack generation. He has a big, black painted house in Pacific Heights -- the Hampstead of San Francisco -- where he tries to contain himself, a pet octopus, a collection of exotic insects and Wagnerian opera, and his equally wild at heart wife, the pale-faced actress Patricia Arquette.
Meet The Adams Family?
The thought is endorsed by Cage's cinema record which includes the Vampire wannabe (‘Vampire's Kiss') -- he munched a live cockroach during filming -- a breast obsessed Vietnam veteran (‘Birdy'), a snakeskin-coated, Elvis-fixated parole jumping killer (‘Wild at Heart'), baby-napper ( ‘Raising Arizona'), ghoulish,steroid-stuffed gangster (‘Kiss of Death') and, more white bread, Cher's toy-boy baker lover (‘Moonstruck').
In work he enjoys despondency, adores the possibilities of derangement. Away from the screen he believes red wine reduces blood cholesterol and that champagne (French not Californian) is an antidote to allergies. He studied wine at the University of Southern California (USC) for two years so he must know better than the doctor.
Ironically, Cage could not drink during the filming of ‘Leaving Las Vegas' -- there just wasn't enough time off during filming of the hugely appreciated Mike Figgis movie -- but before work began had a crawl through Dublin.
His academic father August Coppola, brother of Francis Ford Coppola and Talia Coppola of ‘The Godfather' saga, was intended to enjoy the Guinness with him but they argued and he indulged in a solo run.
The Coppola clan enjoy pasta, wine and argument but the three courses can be served in any order. His mother, dancer Joy Vogelsang who suffered severe bouts of depression, and father divorced when he was 12. He escaped into a Christmas present make-up kit and a collection of wigs and false noses.(‘It was a wonderful imaginary world where I could be whomever I wanted'). He did and does adore Disney's ‘Pinocchio' and was influenced he says by seeing Sean Connery in the first Bond, ‘Dr No.'
It is with Connery that he co-stars in ‘The Rock' which opens in cinemas this week (June 21) and it is wham-bam adventure movie stuff. He looks as amazed as anyone that he's playing Dr Stanley Goodspeed a nerdy FBI chemical warfare specialist who downloads nerdom and becomes action man.
Once again, it is Cage doing what doesn't appear natural. The movie involves Connery as the one man ( of course, smooth and cultured) who escaped from Alcatraz but has been back inside another prison for thirty years. He is offered his freedom if he can get Cage's Goodspeed and assorted good guys out to the island in San Francisco Bay where Ed Harris and his renegade marines are harbouring a combination of nasty poison and plans.