Around 2014, after Nicolas Cage had a string of box office flops with the likes of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” the actor started becoming the face of straight-to-VOD action movies. Those roles piled up in the dozens as reports surfaced that Cage blew his $150 million fortune, owed the IRS $6.3 million in property taxes and was taking every acting role he could in order to get out of debt. The actor recently clarified this period of his life in an interview with GQ magazine.
“I’ve got all these creditors and the IRS and I’m spending $20,000 a month trying to keep my mother out of a mental institution, and I can’t,” Cage said about his debts. “It was just all happening at once.”
Cage said that he refused to get to the point where he would have to file for bankruptcy, even if people in his life were telling him he should. That’s where the endless string of Cage-starring VOD movies came in handy, although the Oscar winner stressed that he never took on a role he didn’t believe in — even if the role was helping him avoid bankruptcy.
“When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all,” Cage said. “They didn’t work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like ‘Mandy,’ but some of them didn’t work. But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring.”
According to GQ, Cage officially “finished paying off all his debts” a year and a half ago after signing on to star in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” That film, which stars Cage as a fictionalized version of himself, just debuted to strong reviews at SXSW Film Festival. Cage said he had to pivot to VOD films because “the phone stopped ringing” with offers for studio movies.
“It was like, ‘What do you mean we’re not doing ‘National Treasure 3?’ It’s been 14 years. Why not?’” Cage said. “Well, ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ didn’t work, and ‘Ghost Rider’ didn’t really sell tickets. And ‘Drive Angry,’ that just came and went.”
Cage said “National Treasure 3″ remains far out of reach, but the actor is enjoying staying in his indie lane. “I enjoy making movies like ‘Pig’ and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ more than I enjoy making movies like ‘National Treasure,'” he said. Although Cage wouldn’t elaborate, he alluded to Disney leaving him in the dust during his career downturn as one reason a third “National Treasure” movie is not in the cards.
“When I talk about fair-weather friends in Hollywood, I’m not talking about [‘National Treasure’ producer] Jerry Bruckheimer,” Cage said. “I’m talking about Disney. They’re like an ocean liner. Once they go in a certain direction, you’ve got to get a million tugboats to try to swivel it back around.”
Head over to GQ’s website to read Cage’s profile in its entirety. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” opens April 22.