Nicholas Kim Coppola better known as Nicolas Cage, was born in Long Beach, California to August Coppola, a comparative literature professor and brother of director Francis Ford Coppola and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. Cage initially studied theatre at Beverly Hills High, though he dropped out at 17 years old, he did end up graduating from UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. Cage changed his name early on in his career to make his own mark in Hollywood and his certainly did so with classic, quirky roles during the late 1980s like his small role in the memorable 1982 romantic dramedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yet, his role in the 1983 romantic comedy Valley Girl is what really launched his career. Cage is known for playing flamboyant, larger than life characters in his own sly and unique way. He’s also known for his comedic side and penchant for churning out memorable action heroes. Cage has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role twice, and took home the statuette for his performance in the 1995 romantic drama Leaving Las Vegas. His other blockbuster hits include 1996’s The Rock, 1997’s Face/Off and 2007’s Ghost Rider. In honor of his 58th birthday, here is a Top 10 list of Nicolas Cage movies.
10. Snake Eyes: This 1998 conspiracy thriller was directed by Brian De Palma and featured numerous split screen shots making it visually spectacular. Cage co-starred with Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino, John Heard, Stan Shaw, Kevin Dunn and Luis Guzmán. Cage played flashy and corrupt Atlantic City police detective Rick Santoro, who goes to a big ticket boxing match at the Atlantic City Arena only to become embroiled in the assassination of the US Secretary Defense Secretary and finding out who to trust isn’t so easy when it comes to a murder conspiracy. Cage’s signature over-the-top vibe along with lies, deceptions and mistaken identities filled this non-stop thrill ride to its very climax.
9. Honeymoon in Vegas This 1992 romantic comedy had Cage co-starring with James Caan and Sarah Jessica Parker. Cage played Jack Singer, who takes his girlfriend Betsy (Parker) to Las Vegas to get married but unfortunately, she’s seen by wealthy professional gambler Tommy Korman (Caan,) who notices Betsy’s uncanny resemblance to his beloved late wife and tries to steal Betsy away from Singer. Singer gets into so many uproariously funny situations in his attempt to keep his girlfriend including skydiving. This movie truly illustrated for the first time, Cage’s talent for physical comedy.
8. Moonstruck: Cage co-starred with Cher, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello and John Mahoney in this 1988 romantic dramedy. Cage played Ronny Cammareri, who falls in love with his brother’s (Aiello’s) fiancé, Loretta (Cher) and tries to win her affections. Cage’s smitten behavior and offbeat antics made moviegoers hope that Loretta chose him over his brother and in the end…she did!
7. It Could Happen to You: This 1994 romantic dramedy had Cage co-starring with Bridget Fonda, Rosie Perez, Issac Hayes and Stanley Tucci. Cage played New York City police officer Charlie Lang, who shares his huge lottery win with a waitress, named Yvonne (Fonda,) because he couldn’t afford to tip her. Cage and Fonda’s on-screen chemistry was sweet and enduring as moviegoers watched them fall in love despite Charlie’s greedy wife (Perez), who doesn’t want to share the winnings. In this movie, Cage proved that he could play the romantic lead with charm and finesse.
6. Leaving Las Vegas: Cage won an Academy Award for his performance in this 1995 romantic drama that was based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O’Brien. Co-starring opposite Elisabeth Shue, Richard Lewis, Valeria Golino and Steven Weber, Cage played suicidal Hollywood screenwriter who resolves to drink himself in Las Vegas. Once there, he meets Sera, (Shue) a hard *ss prostitute and they bond. Cage showed his dramatic chops in this role and his on-screen chemistry with Shue was undeniable!
5. City of Angels: This 1998 romantic fantasy drama was a very loose remake of Wim Wenders’ 1987 German film Wings of Desire. Cage co-starred with Meg Ryan, Dennis Franz, Colm Feore, and Robin Bartlett and Andre Braugner. Cage played Seth, an angel who brings dying people over to the afterlife. He falls in love with Dr. Maggie Rice (Ryan) and chooses to “fall to earth” so he could be with her. An unusually subdued Cage captivated fans in a role that conveyed his soft side and ability for pure tenderness and sacrifice.
4. Face/Off: The 1997 action crime flick directed by John Woo, had Cage starring opposite John Travolta, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain and Harve Presnell. At the beginning of the film, Cage played Castor Troy, a psychopathic freelance terrorist. Travolta played FBI Special Agent Sean Archer determined to bring Troy down since he murdered his young son. Archer then learns of an experimental face transplant surgery that will make him look like Troy so he can learn the location of bomb Troy recently planted. So, Cage, essentially played two roles, but in the same body. His facial expressions, body language and emotions playing both the hero and the maniacal villain were absolutely superb. Cage was believable as both the good guy and the soulless terrorist and he played both with utter class mixed with entertaining action.
3. National Treasure: This 2004 action adventure film directed by Jon Turteltaub and produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures, fused American history with code-breaking, intrigue and romance. Cage played Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist, comes from a long line of treasure hunters and is determined to prove the existence of the National Treasure his grandfather told him about as a boy. Co-starring Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha of The Hangover movie trilogy, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Plummer, Cage and his crew go to great lengths to prove the treasure’s existence and to keep it from being stolen. Cage’s action chops as well as his dramatic and romantic chops were put to the test here as moviegoers were smitten with the history-laden plot line filled with references to our Founding Fathers. The movie’s 2007 sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets was also a huge box office hit and National Treasure 3 has been just been announced, which will surely be filled with all of the elements that made the previous two films the monster successes they were.
2. Con Air: Cage starred in this 1997 nonstop action thriller, which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Cage starred alongside John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Mykelti Williamson, Dave Chapelle, Rachel Ticotin, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, Colm Meany and Monica Potter. Cage played Former Army Ranger Cameron Poe, who was sentenced to a maximum-security federal penitentiary for killing a drunk man who attempted to assault his pregnant wife, Tricia (Potter.) Eight years later, he’s paroled but ends up on a flight hijacked by a bevy of hardened criminals. He must save the day, his fellow inmate/friend, Baby-O (Williamson,) and Guard Sally Bishop (Ticotin) all while trying to get home to his wife and daughter, whom he’s never met. Cage’s buff body, thick Southern accent meshed with the continuous action, explosions and twists made the movie a monster hit and IMO, one of the best performances of Cage’s career!
1. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: This 2010 action/adventure fantasy flick was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Jon Turteltaub and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Here, Cage co-starred with Alfred Molina, Jay Baruchel, Alice Krige, Omar Benson Miller and Monica Bellucci. Cage played Balthazar Blake, an apprentice to the great sorcerer Merlin. He travels to modern day Manhattan to find the boy who would inherit Merlin’s powers, a Physics nerd named Dave Stutler (Baruchel,) who would ultimately save the world from the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (Krige) and Balthazar’s ex-friend/fellow sorcerer Horvath (Molina,) who wished to raise the dead sorcerers and destroy mankind. Cage’s rapport with Baruchel was sweet as he gave him a crash course on magic to prepare him for the ultimate battle. The special effects in this movie were off the hook as explosions, fire and fantastical magic happened in nearly every scene. Though it garnered mixed reviews from critics, it’s my favorite Nicolas Cage film and believed showcased all of acting strengths…action, romance, drama and just plain fun!!