Nicolas Cage Hated Making An ’80s Comedy Classic

By Charlene Badasie | Published

nicolas cage movie

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a coming-of-age 80s ensemble comedy, is celebrated for capturing the essence of teenage life in a fictional California high school. However, Nicolas Cage, who was 17 years old and eager for a breakout role, does not have fond memories of his time on set or the grueling audition process.

Nicolas Cage In Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Cameron Crowe, the mastermind behind the screenplay, initially envisioned David Lynch directing the film. But fate led him to Amy Heckerling, a punk-rock enthusiast fresh out of the American Film Institute. Heckerling shared Crowe’s vision of an unfiltered portrayal of Southern Californian adolescence. The search for the perfect cast began with a young Nicolas Cage, then known as Nick Coppola.

Cage, determined to secure the role of Brad Hamilton, auditioned tirelessly, impressing casting director Don Phillips with his skills. Phillips, credited with launching the careers of several Hollywood stars, saw potential in Nicolas Cage’s inexperience, describing him as “new, young, and ambitious.” However, despite the filmmaker championing Cage, Heckerling preferred Judge Reinhold for the part.

Nicolas Case Teased On Set

The exact reasons behind Nicolas Cage’s exclusion remain mysterious. Heckerling maintains that age played a role. But Cage denies this, suggesting he was misled about the decision. As a consolation, Heckerling offered the young actor a minor role as “Brad’s bud,” a character working alongside the lead in a fast-food joint.

The shoot was an awful experience for Nicolas Cage. His castmates, including Eric Stoltz, mercilessly teased him for being a Coppola. “I was pretty much the nerd to everybody,” the actor said via Vulture. “I was the brunt of jokes because my name was still Coppola, so there’d be a congregation outside my trailer quoting lines from Apocalypse Now, like, ‘I love the smell of Nicolas in the morning.'”

Envy Led To The Behavior?

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Reflecting on the teasing, Stoltz expresses regret, acknowledging that envy may have fueled the torment. “Nick was one of the younger ones,” Stoltz said. “He was big for his age, and he was quite bold and animated. In the midst of all this hanging around, he would occasionally drop his uncle’s name. Which isn’t a crime, but it didn’t feel very good. So we would give him guff about it until he stopped.”

Frances Ford Coppola

Nicolas Cage is the nephew of the acclaimed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. His father, August Coppola, a literature professor, is the brother of Francis. This makes Cage a first cousin once removed to Sofia Coppola and Roman Coppola. Francis Ford Coppola is a highly regarded director, producer, and screenwriter known for work on The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation.

What Is Fast Times At Ridgemont High About?

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is based on Crowe’s 1981 book of the same name, which he wrote after going undercover as a high school student to research teenage life. The comedy follows a group of California high school students as they navigate the challenges of adolescence, touching on topics such as love, sex, and friendship.

Nicolas Cage After Fast Times

While Nicolas Cage’s role as Brad’s Bud is relatively brief, the actor made an impact with his energetic and quirky performance. After Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cage went on to have a prolific and diverse acting career. He became known for his versatile roles in a wide range of films, including Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, and Leaving Las Vegas, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Since then, Nicolas Cage’s career has been characterized by his willingness to take on unconventional roles and explore different genres. He has portrayed a variety of characters in action films, dramas, comedies, and more. Cage’s ability to fully immerse himself in his roles has made him a distinctive and influential figure in the film industry.