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There's no denying that Nicolas Cage has had an...interesting...career. The man is an Academy Award winner, but in more recent years his choice in role has been a bit frantic. He's been in all sorts of movies from major releases to small indies. He's been in critically acclaimed movies and many that were very much not.
It's been reported that the actor has had money troubles over the years, and so the frequency and types of roles that Cage has taken have often been connected with that. There's a belief that he takes jobs for the money first, and the art second (if at all). Recently the New York Times Magazine asked Nicolas Cage about this, and while he admits that the money is always a consideration, he also makes it clear the money is never the only reason he takes a role. According to Cage...
I can’t go into specifics or percentages or ratios, but yeah, money is a factor. I’m going to be completely direct about that. There’s no reason not to be. There are times when it’s more of a factor than not. I still have to feel that, whether or not the movie around me entirely works, I’ll be able to deliver something and be fun to watch.
It seems that Nicolas Cage may be quietly admitting that he knows that some of the movies he's been in haven't been great. However, even if the movie doesn't "work" on the whole, he clearly isn't taking jobs strictly for the money. He wants jobs where at the very least the job he is doing is something audiences would enjoy watching.
The idea that has been persisting is that Nicolas Cage likes to spend money as fast as he makes it, which has forced him to work on movies that most other actors with his history might not take. However, Cage says that his money issues have a somewhat different basis. It seems he actually had a lot of money in real estate which, when the bottom fell out of that market several years ago, left him with essentially nothing.
But yes, it’s no secret that mistakes have been made in my past that I’ve had to try to correct. Financial mistakes happened with the real estate implosion that occurred, in which the lion’s share of everything I had earned was pretty much eradicated. But one thing I wasn’t going to do was file for bankruptcy. I had this pride thing where I wanted to work my way through anything, which was both good and bad.
That tracks with the shift in Cage's work history. IN 2007 Nicolas Cage was in the high profile, if not box office smashing Ghost Rider and the sequel to his successful National Treasure. However, after that, alongside other high profile jobs, like Kick-Ass, we started to see substandard action movies like Bangkok Dangerous and Drive Angry creep into the filmography.
Nicholas Cage knows the movies haven't all been great, but it sounds like he'd much rather make a lot of movies, and have some of them be bad, then not work at all.
Not all the movies have been blue chip, but I’ve kept getting closer to my instrument. And maybe there’s been more supply than demand, but on the other hand, I’m a better man when I’m working. I have structure. I have a place to go. I don’t want to sit around and drink mai tais and Dom Pérignon and have mistakes in my personal life. I want to be on set. I want to be performing. In any other business, hard work is something to behold. Why not in film performance?
In the end, we likely won't remember most of the movies Nicolas Cage has made, but that's probably fine. He'll be remembered for the movies that people love, and the rest can fade away. For as long as keeps working, the odds of more great performances that will be remembered will always be out there.