Nicolas Cage is having a career resurgence the likes of which has rarely been seen in the history of Hollywood. After spending a number of years in the proverbial wilderness of direct to DVD action films (which has since been revealed to be a deliberate decision to pay off debts and pay for the welfare of his mother), Cage has returned to form starring in critically acclaimed films like Pig and the upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. According to a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the latter film actually has returned cage to the genre in which he thinks he does his best work: comedy. Cage says that while he has been in a number of beloved comedies, he spent a long time not getting cast in them and the new meta comedy with Pedro Pascal allows him to stretch that aspect of his, well, talent. Here are Nicolas Cage’s own words:
Somewhere along the way, Hollywood seems to have forgotten that I could do comedy… I had done Raising Arizona, I had done Honeymoon in Vegas, Moonstruck — I mean, it goes on — but they forgot. With this, Tom invited me back into a comedy, and it was a very welcome experience for me because I wanted to do that. It’s been so long.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent stars Nicolas Cage as a fictionalized version of himself, who has apparently had a pretty enormous career downturn. This sadsack version of the star of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is in dire financial straits and a drought of paying roles. On the advice of his agent (a suitably smarmy Neil Patrick Harris), he takes a personal appearance fee in the amount of $1 million to parade as himself at the birthday party of billionaire megafan Javi Gutierrez,(Pedro Pascal). As it turns out, this lowering of his dignity actually proves to be a bonding opportunity between him and Javi, and according to Nicolas Cage, the movie becomes something of a buddy comedy. However, it also turns out that Pedro Pascal’s character might be a billionaire because of some not-so-legal activities, and Cage is recruited as a mole by CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz). Hijinks ensue.
The career of Nicolas Cage is a peculiar thing, and has gone in many directions. While he has a lot of strange detours like the two pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe Ghost Rider films and a movie about the World Trade Center, he is generally known for the unique intensity he brings to his work. While that has often been harnessed by directors like David Lynch for oddball mania in Wild at Heart or John Woo’s Face/Off, it is particularly poignant in the many comedies he has made. And let it never be said that Nicolas Cage is above getting goofy for a movie; after all, this is the man who ate a cockroach for a movie, even though nobody actually told him to do it.
Nicolas Cage is getting some of the best critical praise of his career with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which seems to be signaling a turning point for the actor. Whether he keeps on the path of comedy (self-referential or not) or goes back to drama or maybe does some weird thing like deciding to become an opera star (it could happen), we are here to see what he does next.