Nicolas Cage on the comedy about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – The Hollywood Reporter

In his latest role, Nicolas Cage plays himself as himself – In a way – in the multi-genre Unbearable weight of massive talentan experience he says invited him back to comedy.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter during the special screening in New York of Lionsgate, Saturn Films and Burr! Production films held at the Regal Essex Crossing & RPX on Sunday night, the star credited co-authors Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican (who also direct the film) for allowing him to play in a genre that had eluded him in recent years.

“Somewhere along the way, Hollywood seems to have forgotten I could do comedy,” Cage explained. “I would have done that Raising Arizona, I had done that Honeymoon in Vegas, Moonstruck – I mean, it’s going on – but they forgot. With this, Tom invited me back to a comedy and it was a very welcome experience for me because I wanted to do it. It is so long ago.”

The film sees Cage use all of his acting chops to play Nicolas Cage, an aging actor struggling to get new roles, who in desperation accepts an offer from billionaire fan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) to perform at his birthday party for a 1 million dollars in a concert that takes a slightly wild turn after the CIA gets involved.

Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images; Jamie McCarthy / WireImage

“The script starts as an indie character, and slowly when Pedro Pascal’s character comes in, it changes into a comedy comedy, and we really had to try to make it hassle-free, so it was about putting all the performances across. Everyone the genres as much as we could, “Gormican explained.” From the production design to the score, we really had to work hard to use all the tools we had available to actually go from genre to genre. “

The film jumps from explosive action games to emotional indie to meta-comedy and back, but for Cage, it was the laughs that “resonated” the most. “All the comedy in the movie resonated because I like to be funny at home and make my wife laugh and my boys laugh,” he explained. “I come a little off the wall in my particular brand of humor, and that reflects well on this film. It’s very clear in the film what my sense of humor is.”

While enjoying the art of laughing, playing himself, Cage recounted THR, was a bit of an out-of-body experience. “There were some moments where – like the stage by the pool and I’m sitting in the lounge chair and people call you Mr. Cage – I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening. This is my character’s name.’ “It’s scary. Those days were a little tricky, but I’m glad to say it all works out.”

It may have been a feeling that was partly exaggerated by the fact that a large portion of the cast were actual fans of Cage, according to Gormican. “When we started posting this when we had Nick, every single actor involved in this project revealed to us that they were massive Nicolas Cage fans and just wanted to be involved. Pedro Pascal came to lunch and said, ‘I do not care if you put me in this movie, I just want to talk to you about Nick.’

Pascal confirmed THR that stepping in to play a Nicolas Cage superfan was perhaps a little more on the nose than Cage playing Cage. “Interestingly, I would say I play a version of myself that is perhaps even closer to me than Nicolas Cage is Nicolas Cage in this film,” Pascal said, continuing to describe Cage as a “spontaneous and original” scene partner who was “fun to work with and challenging.”

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From left: Lily Sheen, Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal
Taylor Hill / FilmMagic

For Lily Sheen, who plays Cage’s daughter Addy, she could not personally relate to the experience of having a burnt out, famous father, but she called the experience of playing in a “worst case … bizarro world version” of entertainment “cathartic.” Having Cage there to help guide her through her first major film role made it even better.

“The person I worked with was an incredible father and an incredible mentor and was an amazing person to have on the set to reassure me and teach me how to do things,” she said. “I do not think Nick Cage in that movie would probably have done the same.”

Cage admitted on the carpet that playing an exaggerated, tabloid-like version of himself was something of a test of his acting technique, and it took a few days when he was on set to really fall into the role.

“I have a certain criterion that I meet on each film to build a character. I design the character – the movements, the expressions, the vocalizations, some of what I want to say, from the ridiculous and hopefully to the sublime,” Cage said. “But whatever I design, no matter how broad it may be, it must have real emotions. The emotional content must infuse the performance as well as the imagination.”

“So I noticed within day one or two, after I got the first nervousness about playing a character who actually has my name – and I’m still getting over it – I realized that the same criteria can be applied. on this, “he concluded.

Working on the set with an actor who both has such a clear vision for his roles and shares the same name (and resume) as his character, resulted in a few conversations about how to distinguish the characters from the actual man. “Nick always came over to me and said, ‘Hey Tom, there’s a guy wearing rings and leather jackets, and he lives in Las Vegas. And he would never say that.’ And I say, ‘Oh, you mean you? ‘”Says Gormican, laughing. “And he says, ‘Well, yes.’ And I say, ‘Well, it’s not you. It’s a character based on you. ‘ He says, ‘He has my name.’ And I’m like, please say the line. We would both laugh and he would say, ‘OK, okay. I’ll do it.'”

However, blurring the line between reality and fiction in this Nicolas Cage tribute also provided one of the film’s funniest moments. “In the script, the younger version of Nick was going to kiss Nick on the cheek, and that morning Nick came to Tom and said, ‘I have an idea for this scene. I think young Nick should kiss Nick deeply French. He says,’ What do you think? ‘ “About that?” “Etten remembers.” And we were like, “Yes. It’s incredible. I would never have thought of saying that to you, but yes, a thousand times. “

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From left: Paco León, Lily Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Turen, Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Kristin Burr, Kevin Etten and Mike Nilon
Jamie McCarthy / WireImage

Finding out what Cage should pitch, and how to make the fictional version of him, actually came from co-writers and true longtime fans, Etten and Gormican, who dived deep into the actor’s catalog, as well as watching hours after hours with interviews. “We read a lot of interviews with him, then interviews, so we had a sense of things he was interested in,” Etten said. THR. “We knew he loved German expressionism movies, and so we added it to his character, where in the first act he will show his daughter Dr. Caligaris cabinetwhich is this old German movie that we had read that he loves.

“So there were little things like the one where we knew this was going to show him that we’ve done our research, that we’ve studied what he goes into, and we sprinkled it with that kind of thing,” he continued. “Then it was again a negotiation in terms of who the character was and who he was.”

“The fact that he has enough perspective on where the fake version of him sits in that kind of entertainment ecosystem is something that’s really amazing,” Gormican adds. “It’s a kind of warts and all that, where he can present a version of himself that is down and out, and that’s hard to do.”

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