How exactly does one turn an Academy Award into, well, "Season of the Witch" and "Ghost Rider" and "Drive Angry"?
“It was a great experience and I felt very thankful for it but it’s not the sort of thing I think about on a daily basis,” Cage tells PopcornBiz, regarding his Best Actor win for 1995's "Leaving Los Vegas." “It’s in my past and, as you might’ve guessed, I don’t really use it as a criteria to choose my movies. My interests are a pretty acquired taste that I have. The movies that I enjoy watching personally are movies that really frustrate my wife and that you can’t really get on Amazon. So it’s an interest in Roger Corman movies and the midnight movies. I like Ray Harryhausen. I like fantasy, horror and science fiction because I can get avant-garde with those performances in those movies.”
“Inherently, I’m able to be abstract and ‘modern art,’ if you will, because the movies are inherently out there and I can still connect with audiences,” he explains, “I can’t do that in down-and-dirty dramas. I can’t do that unless I go outside the box. If I’m playing a character who’s on drugs, like ‘Bad Lieutenant,’ then I can get pretty out there. Otherwise I have to look at supernatural movies or science fiction movies to get more avant-garde.”
That doesn’t mean Cage might not come up with an Oscar contender once again, he says. “I am excited that science fiction movies have been included in the Oscars now because they’ve opened the Best Picture category up to 10 movies. So now movies which have every right to be there – like “District 9,” which was arguably the best movie in my opinion of that year; it was like Apartheid told through the eyes of science-fiction – are now included. I think that some of the most inventive, creative and imaginative filmmaking out there is science fiction when it’s done intelligently, and horror when it’s done intelligently.”
Cage also reveals that merely fulfilling a bizarre whim can lure him to sign on to a project, as was the case for “Drive Angry.” “Initially what I was attracted to was the idea that I was going to get my eye shot out. The movie 'Season of the Witch,' I wanted to get my eye shot out with a bow and arrow, and the producers didn’t go for it. We never really got there. So when [director] Patrick Lussier said to me, just handed to me on a silver platter, ‘You’re going to get your eye shot out,’ I don't know why but I just immediately said ‘Yes, I’m in,’ because it was something that I wanted to do. It’s as simple as that.”
The actor says that while he started acting without real formal training and subscribed to the DeNiro-esque “living the part” philosophy for many years, he eventually bowed to a more Olivier-like “from the outside in” approach. “I had realized that I’d developed my own style and process and school of acting which is called Nouveau Shamanic,” he says. “That’s the new style of acting and at some point I’ll have to write a book.”
And maybe start his own acting school? “I’m working on it!”