Nicolas Cage stars as an ex-con in the Texas-set drama “Joe.” David Gordon Green, who previously helmed the comedies “Pineapple Express” and “Prince Avalanche”, directs the film. This film, based on Larry Brown’s popular novel, is decidedly more dramatic.
Cage recently spoke about his role about a man trying to stay out of trouble and yet finds himself in serious trouble when he takes an abused teenager under his wing. The boy is played by a promising young actor named Tye Sheridan.
The 50-year-old actor, who hails from the Coppola acting/performing dynasty, recently spoke about his new role and why he saw a kinship to the character he plays, and what’s ahead.
Q: How did you work on set as far as the script and improvising?
Cage: It was a very pleasant experience, playful too. One of the things I love about working with David is he would get the scene the way it was written. Then he would go back and say, “Let’s do it with no dialogue and let’s just see what comes out of the looks and the face. Now, let’s try improvising it.” So it was a process of discovery that we were all into together. When you have that kind of an environment on the set, spontaneous things happen that become electric and fresh.
Q: What was the last film you had to audition for?
Cage: It’s an interesting process to be sure, and it’s something I have some thoughts on. I don’t remember the last movie I actually went into a casting office on. Going into a casting office is a real baptism by fire. It’s a real trial. One of my thoughts on it is if you’re really special, meaning you’re doing something unique and original, it could scare people. If you go into a casting office and you’re a new voice, and you’re doing something kind of original, they don’t know what box to put you in. They’re looking for Ryan Gosling or someone like him, and if you don’t fit that—Ryan’s great by the way, he’s one of our greatest actors—then you don’t fit the mold. So what I would offer to young actors is, Go into the (casting) office, but also videotape yourself. Put a frame on it, so they can look at it, and then maybe when they go home and are eating their salad, they’ll go, “What did that kid do in that videotape? Let me look at that again.” And then they look at it and see when the unique performance is framed, there is something special there, and I would suggest that young actors do that.
Q: Can you talk about working with Gary Poulter (who plays the boy’s abusive father Wade aka G-Daawg)?
Cage: I loved his face. He reminded me of (late character actor) Richard Farnsworth. There was something in his face. I could see him playing a Civil War captain. I could see him playing a cowboy in an old Western movie. He had all this charisma. He was always on point. He always had his lines. He never missed a day. He was on time. I said, “Gary, just keep it together for a year and your phone’s going to start ringing and your life is going to change.” He took this long pause and he kind of looked at me with these big, sad blue eyes and said, “Really?” And I said, “Yeah, man, really.” So when David called me two months after photography and told me he’d passed on, it was pretty upsetting.
Q: What was the appeal of doing “Left Behind”?
Cage: The appeal of doing “Left Behind” for me was first and foremost, my character is left behind. So that answers a lot of questions. But also I’ve never been in a situation in a movie before. That I’m a pilot of a transatlantic jumbo jet and my passengers start disappearing on a plane and I don’t know where they are. To me, that’s a challenge that’s just too exciting of a thing to resist.
Q: Since your wife is Korean, what did you discover about Asian culture through your her?
Cage: First of all, I don’t generalize. But, I will say that my wife is very family-oriented. But I don’t think that’s because she’s Asian, I think it’s because she’s family-oriented. I will say that I love all Asian food. It stimulates my imagination. I’m a big enthusiast of Korean food. When I get the kimchi, the galbi and I put the garlic and wrap it in the leaf and mix it in the paste, then I have a glass of red wine, I suddenly get an idea of what I want to do in my next movie.