Only one actor embodies our nation’s true spirit to its fullest. We’ve seen him give his all — his heart, his passion and his hair — to make films great, and we’ve seen him give nothing, preferring to take his money and leave. He’s one of the highest paid movie stars of all time, yet he stays true to the common man by owing millions of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service. No one else straddles the line between creative genius and absolute idiot so closely.
I’m talking about Nicolas Cage. He can be a brilliant actor — his portrayal of an alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas makes you never want to drink again, and he is absolutely dead-on (and hilarious) as the misfit “father” in Raising Arizona. No one else makes movies that are as fun to watch, either. Even though The Rock didn’t win or deserve any Academy Awards, it’s still one of the best action movies of the past 20 years, and Con Air is too over the top to not love (well, that and it has John Cusack.) And when it comes to dual roles, Matchstick Men proved that The Cage is capable of being simultaneously hilarious and serious.
But his acting prowess is not the only thing that makes The Cage great. No other actor (or creature, for that matter) has the hair styling abilities he has. Need a clean-cut military haircut? No problem — The Cage has you covered. A platinum blonde, foot-tall pompadour? Not even close to being a problem. Dirty redneck stubble with greasy, stringy long hair? He’s got that, too. What about a fro? Once again, The Cage is prepared and at the ready. He’s Hollywood’s hair chameleon, always ready to beat his hair into submission at a moment’s notice for the sake of the script or, at least, the paycheck.
So, he’s brilliant. But he’s also terrible. Anyone who has seen Ghost Rider knows how shoddy that movie is — and that’s Citizen Kane compared to the abomination that was Next. His worst movie, though, is the remake of The Wicker Man that came out in 2006. This movie at various points has (seriously) all of the following: The Cage beating up women of all ages; The Cage in a bear suit beating up women of all ages; The Cage screaming like a child as bees get poured onto his face; The Cage stealing a bike from a school girl at gunpoint; The Cage getting set on fire as an entire village sits and prays. And that’s just from one movie — you could fill books with terrible Nicolas Cage quotes, using only movies he’s made in the past 10 years.
There is something special about The Cage’s cinematic failures, though. They’re a special kind of bad that can be tolerated and even enjoyed in small doses. Even if he’s not giving his all, he’s still more fun to watch than 90 percent of the other actors in Hollywood. It’s definitely the reason he can still command $20 million roles, left and right.
However, The Cage’s greatest asset is his debt itself. Because he chose to buy not one, not two, but nine Rolls-Royce Phantoms, an island and 15 different places to live around the world, he’s now millions in debt and is flooded with lawsuits — which means he’s got to continue acting in anything and everything that comes his way to keep paying the bills. That only means that we can continue to look to The Cage as a beacon of acting excellence for many years to come.