I feel like we go through waves of appreciation when it comes to Nicholas Cage. In the 80s and 90s, he was a bona fide star, but as soon as he started making choices based on money and not material, he sort of diluted his brand.
Now, it's hard to remember Cage is a great actor. Mostly because we don't get him in many great movies. For every Mandy, there are a dozen Primals.
One of my favorite Nic Cage roles is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Directed by Werner Herzog, Cage goes bananas in this role, seeing iguanas in places and just being delightful in every moment.
Now, Herzog reflects on what went into making that movie.
"I have such wonderful memories of making the film," Herzog said in an interview with Inverse, "and Nicolas Cage, what a phenomenal actor he is."
Herzog did not mince words when it came to Cage.
"Oh, he's a gift from God," Herzog said, "and it's fallen into my lap."
But selling other people on Cage was way harder than selling himself. Herzog is known for his vision and planning. Once he got it in his head Cage would be in this movie, he had to sit with him to make sure the studio also understood there was no negotiation on this point.
"There was a conspiracy between the two of us," Herzog said. "He said, 'I'm not gonna sign my contract unless Werner Herzog is on board as a director,' and I said, 'I'm not gonna sign my contract unless Nicholas is on board.' And it was a wonderful collaboration."
This pressure caused both sides to cave and allowed the two of them to make the movie they wanted.
'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans'Credit: First Look Studios
While we haven't seen them collaborate again, Herzog was excited to consider the idea. When Inverse asked him how soon he wanted to collaborate with Cage again, the director responded with enthusiasm.
"Immediately, if I have a screenplay," he said. "If I have a story where he would fit as leading character or maybe as an antagonist. He is not the young Latino lover. He wouldn't fit there. And I, as an actor, wouldn't fit into a film like that either. I’m good as a villain. He's good in broken characters—well, you know what Nicolas Cage can do. But he's at his best, his finest performance ever, in my opinion, in Bad Lieutenant. And if I have a story, I would not hesitate five seconds to call him up and invite him. I think he would not hesitate to work with me again."
There are very few directors who I think pull the best out of Cage, and Herzog is one of them. I get excited thinking about where they can take characters later, should the opportunity arise.
Were you a fan of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans?
Do you think the Cage collaboration went well?
Let us know your ideas in the comments.