SHOT BY DEPARTURE of his father and overwhelmed by debts, Nick will spend ten years playing in as many films as possible to get back on his feet. In the end, he will have appeared in 46 feature films in a decade. By way of comparison, Brad Pitt made 19 in the same period of time, Tom Cruise, 11, and Leonardo DiCaprio, 9. The period is all the more difficult as, in parallel, his private life is collapsing. There are the arrests for public drunkenness, the end of his twelve-year marriage, then the alcoholic wedding followed by a divorce four days later, not to mention the videos where he makes a fool of himself at karaoke. To make matters worse, her mother’s mental health is still very fragile. “I had all these creditors on my back and I had to spend a lot of money to keep her out of hospital… I couldn’t do it anymore.” Today, however, the star wants to dispel certain misconceptions about these dark years of her career. “Even when I was making four films a year, I was totally involved in each of them. And some, like Mandy, were awesome. Anyway, I have never disrespected the public. It is said that I played in these productions only to repay my debts, but it is false: I have always given everything. Cage ended up repaying all of what he owed just under two years ago, but this victory tasted like a Faustian pact. Because the role which allowed him to send this big check to the taxes and to be finally released, it is that which consisted in playing itself.
On a dark and rainy evening, we find ourselves a few days later, no longer in Vegas, but this time in New Orleans. As we entered the restaurant, the staff struggled to hide their excitement. Nick wears an emerald green suede jacket and orders his Norwegian omelet before he even sits down, before insisting that I taste it. He seems to have grown 10 centimeters since the last time.
He’s here for the pre-production of Renfield, a monster movie directed by Chris McKay. He will play Dracula there and he already knows who he will be inspired by. “I figure my dad came back from the dead and he’s a vampire.” For him, New Orleans is a haunted city. He lived there and shot some of his most memorable films there. It was here that he “learned what romanticism was” by exploring its “dark side”. He pauses. “New Orleans and me, it’s life and death.”
I can see what Nicolas Cage is literally talking about: he planned to be buried in the city, in a nearby cemetery. More precisely at St. Louis Cemetery No 1, one of the most “select” in the United States. His tomb is already built there: it is a white pyramid three meters high, engraved with a Latin epigraph, “Omnia ab Uno”, or “The One is part of the Whole”. This mausoleum is said to be irrefutable proof of the eccentricity of the star, who bought it in 2010, shortly after the death of his father. Why do it so early? His answer is clear: “For some Asian peoples, predicting his death would make it possible to live in a more serene way. And then, buying his grave in advance is doing a favor to his family. Nobody wants to deal with that kind of thing when you lose a loved one.”
When I go to see the pyramid, before taking the plane, I will pay a guide for the visit. In front of the tomb of the future deceased, he will say to me: “You will not find the slightest remains under this pyramid… except the remains of his career!” Before adding: “But it is true that it has become good again these days. I can’t wait to see his next film, where he plays himself!”
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Nicolas Cage: “I still don’t see what’s so funny about my head”