Nicolas Cage was on NPR yesterday promoting his not very good movie Joe, and he had some interesting, only moderately pretentious things to say about what drew him to the role.
I had been waiting for the better part of a year to find a script where I could be as emotionally naked as possible. I’d done several movies where I was experimenting more with performance style and operatic kind of style, but now I wanted to go into almost like Dogme style of film performance, where I didn’t have to think too much about it and I could just be, and take my memories or my past experiences and flood them into a character that would be the right vessel for it. So when I read Joe, right away there was an implicit connection with the dialogue where I thought, “Wow, I understand this man and I think I can play this part in a way where I wouldn’t have to act.”
Yes, I think we all know what he means when he says “operatic style.”
But soon after that, he Cage starts talking about how he was really able to fully access the character.
This was me trying to find a place, over my entire career, to put my theories about the anatomy of a cool face, which I discovered by watching Marlboro Man commercials. ‘Cause the guy in the Marlboro Man commercial, I would say to myself, “Is that cool? Because you look like you’re in pain, and yet you’re smiling?” …I always thought about the anatomy of a cool face, what I call “the anatomy of a cool face.”
David Greene, the host, needs to clarify:
Well, let me get this straight. Nicolas Cage came in thinking about this face and seeing if there’s an opportunity to make it and David Gordon Green, you found a moment where he could carry out his wish?
To which director David Gordon Green replied,
It makes so much sense now! Of course the faces come before the role! Why did Cage do Con Air? Obviously because he had an image in his head of a breath-of-fresh-air-windblown face:
So he found a film that would justify him in using it. There it is, the Nic Cage Acting Method: Face first, film second. And really, who could imagine that these faces were found organically within a role?
And then, of course, there’s the greatest face Nic Cage has ever put on in a movie: