Put a Hollywood star in a European press conference and many very leading questions will try to tease them into a critique of the U.S.

At Friday’s presser for David Gordon Green’s “Joe,” star Nicolas Cage was asked why so many confrontations end with people taking out their guns.

“I’m assuming you want me to answer. I don’t know why you’d believe I’m a spokesman for American usage of firearms. I really can’t answer that,” Cage retorted to general laughter.
Cage, who drew applause by merely walking into the press conference, was also asked about the social, moral and economic crisis described in “Joe.”

“If a film’s about social crisis, that’s a perfectly good thing,” Cage answered. “But for me, it’s more about making a character come to life.”

The actor said he hadn’t worked for a year in order to be very selective about his next movie. Gary Hawkins wrote “Joe’s” screenplay, adapting a novel by Larry Brown, famed for his so-called U.S. “grit-lit.” With “The Sacrament,” it is one of two Worldview Entertainment movies at Venice. “Joe” was warmly received by the audience at Friday’s screening.

“In many of my films, I’m very curious about the presence of masculinity in a man’s life,” Green said.

“There’s no project I’ve done where that’s more front-and-center than ‘Joe,’ ” Green added, saying that in early conversations with Cage about character construction, he’d approached “Joe” as a Western.

“This is a character piece about redemption, about a man trying to ease his own pain and perception of himself through his relationship with this young character, played by Tye Sheridan.”