Around 2014, after Nicolas Cage had a string of box office flops with films like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the actor began becoming the face of action movies that went straight to VOD. Those roles piled up by the dozen as reports surfaced that Cage blew up his $150 million fortune, owed the IRS $6.3 million in property taxes, and took on every acting role he could to get out of debt. The actor clarified this period of his life in a recent 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 of his debt. “It just all happened at once.”
Cage said they refused to get to the point where they had to file for bankruptcy, even when people in his life told him to do it. That’s where the endless line of VOD movies starring Cage came in, though the Oscar-winner insisted he’d never taken a role he didn’t believe in — even if the role helped him avoid bankruptcy.
“When I was making four films a year in a row, I still had to find something in it to give it my all,” Cage said. “They didn’t work, everyone. Some of them were great, like “Mandy”, but some of them didn’t work. But I never called. So if there was a misunderstanding, that was it. That I just did it and didn’t care. I was caring.”
According to GQ, Cage officially “paid off all his debts” a year and a half ago after he signed on to star in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. This film, in which Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, just received rave reviews at the SXSW Film Festival. Cage said they had to switch to VOD movies because “the phone stopped ringing” with studio film offers.
“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 actually sell tickets. And ‘Drive Angry’ just came and went.”
Cage said National Treasure 3 remains way out of reach, but the actor is enjoying staying in his indie lane. “I enjoy doing movies like ‘Pig’ and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ more than movies like ‘National Treasure,'” they said. Though Cage declined to elaborate, he did hint that Disney left him in the dust during his career downturn as one reason the third National Treasure movie isn’t on the horizon.
“When I’m talking about fair-weather friends in Hollywood, I’m not talking about them [‘National Treasure’ producer] Jerry Bruckheimer,” Cage said. “I’m talking about Disney. You are like an ocean liner. Once they go in a certain direction, you have to get a million touts to try and swing them around again.”
Visit GQ’s website to read Cage’s profile in its entirety. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opens on April 22nd.