Nicolas Cage Is The Only Actor Crazy Enough To Bring Back Our Greatest Monsters
Nicolas Cage should not stop at Dracula, but play all the Universal Monsters.
When Nicolas Cage emerged from his cocoon of generic, direct-to-streaming action movies with a series of nuanced dramatic performances and some truly wild, inspired thrillers is perhaps the most unlikely comeback since Robert Downey Jr. built a suit of armor from scraps in a cave. Astonishing performances like his grizzled former chef in Pig and his alternate-universe self alongside Pedro Pascal’s superfan in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, to say nothing of his near-silent drifter/slayer of animatronics in Willy’s Wonderland made it clear that you can never definitively say Cage is down for the count. In our opinion, Nicolas Cage needs to take his recently revitalized critical goodwill and do what no one else has managed to do: revive the Universal Monsters.
Nicolas Cage will soon achieve a lifelong goal and play Count Dracula in the upcoming film Renfield, in which his master vampire has survived to the 20th century along with his depressed, emotional familiar (Nicholas Hoult). But we say that the future serial killer portrayer should not stop at a single iconic monster, but should go all in with Universal Pictures and portray all of their stable of legendary figures, like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (or Gill-Man, may he rest in peace).
The reason for this is simple: Nicolas Cage is the only actor in the world who has the breadth of acting talent and appreciation for cartoonish pop culture to bring these iconic monsters back to public attention, if only out of curiosity. The man who played Ghost Rider, a dying alcoholic screenwriter, and John Travolta playing Nicolas Cage certainly has the range to play both Dracula and Frankenstein. And considering his affinity for playing oddball roles to the rafters, it seems likely that Cage could sink his teeth into the Universal monsters.
It is the remarkable alchemy of Nicolas Cage that, at his best, he can pull off performances that are best described as odd fever dreams and yet not bad. His “nouveau shamanism” style of acting is unique in Hollywood history and, further, uniquely suited to playing characters who have depths of feeling but are also wild, Expressionistic caricatures of behavior. You know, like a monster.
Most other actors attempting to play characters like Dracula and the Wolf Man end up either imitating past performances or indulging in campy self-awareness. Nicolas Cage is never campy and, while he might be self-aware, his characters are not. There is a delightful sincerity to all of his performances that can give back the heart and sympathy to a character like Frankenstein’s Monster that has since been eroded by a thousand parodies.
It has already been shown that resurrecting the Universal Monsters is a near-impossible task. If the star power and borderline inhuman determination of Tom Cruise (with Russell Crowe, Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, and Angelina Jolie in tow) cannot will the Dark Universe into being, what else could?
But Nicolas Cage has something else that no other star has: the craziness to be so invested in a ridiculous character that he can make audiences follow along, no matter what. If anyone can bring back the greatest monsters of cinema history, it is him.