Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage is a man that does not need any introduction. He is well-known worldwide for being one of the most versatile actors of all time, equally known for his poignant portrayals in both drama and comedy. Some of his more notable films include “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “National Treasure”. Coming up next, Cage stars in “Left Behind,” a Christian-themed apocalyptic action film based on the best-selling book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Additionally, Cage recently completed filming Paul Schrader’s “The Dying of the Light” with Anton Yelchin and is currently in production on “The Runner,” which also stars Sarah Paulson, Peter Fonda and Connie Nielsen. Media Mikes had a chance to attend a teleconference with the actor to chat about his role in “Left Behind” and what we can expect the film.
Can you give us a little background on your character Rayford Steele and his importance in the film?
Nicolas Cage: Well I mean Ray Steele is a captain of a jumbo jet, a transatlantic jumbo jet going to London, England. And he’s an important guy on that airplane and he has a flirtation and there’s a chemistry that’s happening with the flight attendant, so marvelously played by Nicky Whelan. He loses track of what’s really valuable to him in terms of his treasures within which is his love for his family. He’s kind of, not that he’s a bad guy but he’s making a mistake that many people make that are in powerful positions lose track of the importance of family. They’re drawn away, or they’re seduced from their true inner-values by something attractive, or something flirtatious, or something that has the call of the wild. Ray Steele gets back to his true need for family through this experience and through this extraordinary experience and understands the value of family and just wants to get back to that no matter what happens. Just to be able to get back on the phone with his daughter and say I’m sorry and “I love you”. And I think that’s as simple as that. I think that is heart-wrenching. And if you have a heart I don’t think it’s possible to see the movie and not get a little verklempt. I mean it, there’s some very poignant, emotional moments.
What was it about this script or what regarding the movie in general that drew you in?
NC: I really said “Yes” on the merits of the screenplay. And also to work with, to work with Vic again, the director. I think all artists, if you’re tapped in, if you’re tuned in, to the zeitgeist and they’re open to that then they’re going to pick up on that. I felt that the script was a challenge and it gave me a chance to really try to make the extraordinary, believable and to do something authentic within performance so that everything around me was going into chaos. People were just appearing on the airplane and how did I make that organic? And again, all the actors, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, they were all on-point. And I find that exciting. To me, it was, it was an exercise and I’m very happy with the results.
How familiar were you with the “Left Behind” series before getting on board?
NC: I was not familiar with the “Left Behind” series. I’m familiar with the rapture of course. My brother, Mark, is a Christian pastor, and he was very excited about this. And he said, “Nicky, you’ve really got to to do this”. I’d already wanted to make the movie because I thought it was such a great script and an opportunity again to do something challenging. But when I saw how passionate he was, I thought, “Well, yeah I want to make this movie for my brother too”.
What was it like working with director Vic Armstrong?
NC: Well actually I’m very comfortable working with Vic. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him on another movie that we made, called “Season of the Witch”. And it was a good experience and I thought that he directed me to a good performance and something that I was very proud of and wanted to work with him again. I knew that I would be able to relax with him and that I would be able to go within and just sort of exhale and be in the moment and be in the scene. That he would allow his actors to breathe and to be relaxed and to find the truth of their performances. And it really shows in the movie. I mean, across the board, of Chad Michael Murray, and Nicky and Cassi again just powerfully real performances. And I knew that that would happen working again with Vic.