Thought Catalog

The Five Lost Movie Roles of Nicolas Cage

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DONKEY (“SHREK”)
The iconic role of “Donkey” was first optioned to Nicolas Cage (second in line was Jesse Eisenberg – at the time, a child displaying no outward interest in acting) before relative no-name Eddie Murphy allegedly bribed his way into the film. Cage had sworn off CGI after lukewarm reviews of “A Bug’s Life,” but his interest was piqued when DreamWorks presented him with the option of delivering his performance on a green screen. The unaltered image of his human body would be superimposed onto the CGI fairy tale kingdom. “It excited me,” Cage said, “I’ve always been drawn to the experimental, the unexpected.” Tragically, we will never know the depth and nuance Cage could’ve awakened in Donkey, due to his nearly fatal discovery of a rare yogurt-based allergy at a TCBY the night before negotiations for the role would’ve been finalized. Major DreamWorks stockholders GoGurt (the zany division of Yoplait actually owns just over one quarter of the DreamWorks enterprise) held steadfast that the line “Parfait’s gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!” not be dropped from the film. “I couldn’t bring myself to stay with the project after the whole ‘parfait’ fiasco. But in the end I’m grateful, because this has given me the chance to raise awareness for D-BAG [Degenerative-Bacterial Allergen Genotoxicity], my condition,” Cage said. “Acting is my life, but knowing I could potentially save someone else’s? The suggestion brings me to truly other worldly levels of well-being.”

FRIDA KAHLO (“FRIDA”)
For what director Julie Taymor refers to as “the single-most emotionally draining year of my life,” Nicolas Cage ardently fought for what would become Salma Hayek’s ultimately forgettable performance as fiery Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo – hand-delivering the director one self-portrait in the style of Kahlo per day. Of the decision to go with Hayek, Taymor said, “Nic’s screen tests were flooring, truly flooring. We [film adaptor Clancy Siegal] were actually physically incapacitated for I don’t know, forty, fifty minutes after seeing the tape. Nicolas was bringing a feminine truth to Frida that made me doubt my own experience as a woman [laughs]. We didn’t think the world was ready.”

CAMERON/TYLER WINKLEVOSS (“THE SOCIAL NETWORK”)
“I wanted someone who was experienced in twin-work and of course Nic is the twin authority, hands-down. I mean, you want twins in this town? You go to Nic Cage,” director David Fincher said. “But to quote the Stones, you can’t always get what you want [pauses]. You really can’t. Not to say that Arnie [Hammer, actor who played the twins] didn’t do a fantastic job. He did. But he’s a kid. We joked around, you know, when things got difficult on set I’d tell him it’s a bitch when your first-born has to be twins, right [laughs]? Nah, but Nic’s birth canal is nice and loose, real ‘old pro.’ After I saw ‘Adaptation’ [2002 film in which Cage plays twin brothers Donald and Charlie Kaufman] my jaw was on the floor. I swore that was the only time I’d ever see Meryl [Streep] get outshined. It was really something. I actually offered [the role of Mark Zuckerburg] to Nic too, but I guess Gondry already nabbed him up for that MySpace movie.”

T-REX (“JURASSIC PARK”)
“T-Rex,” arguably the seminal digital-animatronic figure of 1994, set the bar high for the future of special effects in filmmaking – or so thought the world until Steven Spielberg came clean about the film’s true star, Nicolas Cage. In a November 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Spielberg deemed Cage a “real actor’s actor” and divulged that he agreed to play T-Rex only if his identity remained anonymous, even to fellow cast members, as a part of his extreme take on the Method Acting process. “What initially drew me to the character, you know, what made me think ‘Yes, I actually can do this’ – was that I knew that fundamentally, T-Rex and I saw the world in the same way,” Cage said. “Our prey-seeking vision systems are both largely centered on motion sensing.” To prepare for the role, Cage transported himself back in time to the Cretaceous period, near the coast of what would be considered modern-day Acapulco, Mexico. It was there that he “shadowed” a female Tyrannosaurus Rex, who he came to call “Rosa,” for seven months. When asked for more comment on the experience, Cage only offered, “I’m a better human being because of my time with her. Hay más tiempo que vida. [Mexican proverb which loosely translates to ‘there is more time than life’].”

SEAN ARCHER (“FACE/OFF”)
Production was almost halted for this 1997 thriller due to a scathingly bitter yet oft-media-overlooked debate between Cage, co-star John Travolta, director John Woo, and first team of screenwriters (names withheld by request). In the film, detective Sean Archer and super-criminal Castor Troy have their faces surgically swapped in order to assume each other’s identities. The “Sean Archer” character (played by Travolta in the film) was originally written for Cage, and newcomer Harrison Ford was signed on to play Castor Troy (the role Cage would eventually inherit). Three days after an unexplained on-set visit from John Travolta (who Woo introduced to the cast and crew as his “college roommate,” even though Travolta never went to college), Woo mysteriously hired an entirely new crew, team of writers, and Travolta himself. Harrison Ford was fired and Cage was downgraded to the role of Castor Troy. It has been suggested that the rumored mind-control techniques employed by ministers in the Church of Scientology (of which Travolta is a member) might have had something to do with Woo’s “set cleaning,” but a unanimous opinion remains inconclusive.

When filming re-started in 1988, Cage’s revised contract ensured that scenes between he and Travolta were to be filmed no less than ninety hours or two hundred thirty-six miles apart, contributing to the film’s record-setting nine year shooting period. “I used the rage to my advantage,” said Cage of the experience, “and I’m proud of the work I did. Sometimes in this business you just need to play the hand that’s dealt to you. But that being said, I will absolutely never work with John [Woo, presumably Travolta as well] again.” Woo maintains that Cage “simply wasn’t right” for the role, but gives no other comment on the matter. TC mark

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More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

    lol

  • beachsloth

    Poor Nicolas Cage. Life is so hard for him.

    • http://exitclov.tumblr.com exitclov

      Can't get no respect.

  • http://www.cassandratroyan.com Cassandra Troyan

    I always thought he would have played the T-Rex better.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      meaning “i always thought he would have been a better casting choice than the animatronic t-rex” or “i always thought he would have been more convincing in his role as the t-rex?”

      • http://www.cassandratroyan.com Cassandra Troyan

        I think, more convincing.

  • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders

    lol

  • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

    lol

  • Idk man

    when tao and megan eventually break up (it happens ya'll) do you think they will both continue to post on thought catalog………or……do you think tao will write about it via “Richard Yates Returns”

    • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

      fall back son

    • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

      “Richard Yates 2: Binge Harder”

    • http://exitclov.tumblr.com exitclov

      DUN DUN DUN DUNNN—!
      {meant to signify 'foreboding', 'dramatic film score' music}

  • http://hbgwhem.tumblr.com/ hbgwhem.tumblr.com

    i heard that nic cage was up for the O-dogg role in Menace II Society, but ultimately proved 'too menacing' to society and was replaced shortly after shooting started.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      interesting, curious about your source

      • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

        it was in the first wikileaks, i think

  • http://www.twitter.com/kkasie19 kasie

    waiting for this to go 'viral'. heard your prsnl articles 'always' do, so NBD.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      this one isn't 'prsnl,' but sweet re reference

      • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

        seems personal to me, i've heard you have had sex with nicolas cage more than two dozen times

      • http://kumquatparadise.tumblr.com aaron nicholas

        dag yo

      • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

        that aspect of my relationship with him has nothing to do with his career, which is what this article is about.

      • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

        seems like we have differing viewpoints on professionalism in journalism

  • Taylor

    I have seen Nicholas Cage's performances in a few films, and the only time I have noticed a difference in his tone of voice or facial expression was during the scene in which he was burned alive in the film Kickass.

    Now that I know he played the role of T-Rex I can see how much his performances really transcend traditional acting. I feel more informed in relation to art and the world as a whole having read this informative piece. Needless to say I will be watching the entire National Treasure series plus Nic's career defining performance as Speckles in “G-Force” tonight on Netflix.

    Thank you, Megan Boyle.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      taylor, i'm glad to have played some part in your expanding opinion of cage's approach to acting. it's why i'm here.

  • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

    interesting, curious about your source

  • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

    meaning “i always thought he would have been a better casting choice than the animatronic t-rex” or “i always thought he would have been more convincing in his role as the t-rex?”

  • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper

    Fuck this is good.

  • http://popserial.tumblr.com stephen

    lol

  • http://twitter.com/leighalexander leighalexander

    i like nic cage but in a weird way, he kind of reminds me of my ex in a way that isn't really positive but isn't negative either

    i also like megan's article

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      sweet, leigh

  • http://exitclov.tumblr.com exitclov

    That Yoplait tie-in was ace!
    “T-Rex,” arguably the seminal digital-animatronic figure of 1994, also made me die.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      :) sweet

  • http://wearawaxdustcoat.com A.M. Thomas

    i liked this a lot. i wish it included more about nic cage's hair, specifically why it's like that, what it feels like, and how he has to alter it for his roles.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      hair is another fascinating aspect of nicolas cage's appeal — seemed like if i would've begun to explain the “nicolas cage hair conundrum” this article would've risked veering out of focus. anticipate a future examination of cage's hair, possibly also the most intriguing shapes his mouth makes.

  • http://kumquatparadise.tumblr.com aaron nicholas

    lol [5]

  • http://richardchiem.wordpress.com richardchiem

    so sweet.

    i heard that nicolas cage likes collecting really expensive things, like sport cars and ancient faberge eggs.

    • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

      he does, yes. also korean war-era life-size replicas of news anchors (collection is valued at ~3.8 million and is largely displayed in his master bathroom).

  • http://www.smokingonanemptystomach.blogspot.com Jordan

    i heard nicolas cage hasn't eaten a single carb since the release of “shrek forever after” – don't know his approach re this whole thing, but i wish him the best of luck, i really do

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      my sources say he's actually eaten more carbs since the release of 'shrek forever after' than he's eaten since his birth until the release of 'shrek forever after'

      • http://www.smokingonanemptystomach.blogspot.com Jordan

        (from a recent interview on HTMLGIANT with cage that was published, then “saved as draft”, then published, then, allegedely due to a dispute with cage's agent, “saved as draft”) – “…come to think of it, i do believe i've made some misleading statements about my dietary habits since the release of 'shrek forever after' and i'd like to take this opportunity to clear up any confusion once and for all. on one hand, i don't – nor have i ever – thought of [what are commonly called 'carbs'] as 'carbs,' but rather, i view, objectively, the causes and effects of ingesting [thing in question] under no deductionalist term besides, maybe, as 'like anything else that one ingests.' therefore, i have and have not eaten any carbs, ever, i think, while, at the same time, have only eaten carbs…”

      • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

        my sources say 5-12 agents acting on preemptive behalf of nicolas cage and those representing the interests of nicolas cage are on their way to your house to 'off' you

      • http://www.smokingonanemptystomach.blogspot.com Jordan

        this morning at ~9:48 am EST, 4 men wearing cargo shorts, 'tuxedo t-shirts' and sunglasses (despite the near-freezing, cloudy weather), showed up at my door claiming to have 'just moved in down the street,' identifying themselves as 'jake,' 'bill,' 'frank' and 'ni- i mean, jeff' respectively, asking if they could come in and use my laptop to contact 'someone.' finding this fishy, i asked the men why they needed my laptop and was immediately struck over the head with what looked like a box of '100 6 in. x 9 in., 20% recycled manilla envelopes.' when the 'blow' seemed not to cause the desired affect (which seemed to be 'knocking me out'), 'jeff' identified himself as 'nicolas cage,' removing his sunglasses and stepping inside. despite looking much older and more overweight than pictures, he did seem to bear a striking resemblance to said actor, so i let him and the other men in, who proceeded to laugh 'giddily' while touching the walls of my house and smelling things.

        after touching every wall in my house, eating a 'tofurkey' sandwich, and updating his ipod on my laptop (garnering the entire 'defiance, ohio' discography alongside certain songs by 'waka flocka flame,' 'frederic chopin' and 'nas'), 'nicolas' identified himself as 'not nicolas cage, but nicolas cage's brother, justin.'

        as of now, i have yet to find proof of existence of this person via google, yahoo answers and 'bing,' i feel lost in an emotional way, similar to how i'd imagine a teenage girl feels after drunkenly losing her virginity at a party, perhaps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505759069 Julian Tully Alexander

    Cage would have without a doubt made all of those films great. Cage should be in every film.

  • Van

    I found your logic to be flawless and during some parts I wondered “did this really happen? sounds legit.” That being said, I look up every time people tell me that someone wrote “gullible” on the ceiling.

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