“Pig,” Nicolas Cage’s latest film, depicts the life of a star chef who ultimately rejects fame and decides he would rather spend the rest of his life out of the spotlight and at home with his beloved pet pig. But, according to a recent Variety interview, it’s the persona he plays in the role, that of a guy who has walked away from the bright glare of celebrity, that drew Cage to the picture.
“I do feel that I’ve gone into my own wilderness and that I’ve left the small town that is Hollywood,” Cage says. “I don’t know exactly why Rob left his stardom. It’s never fully explained, and I like that about the movie. But as for me, I don’t know if I’d want to go back. I don’t know if I’d want to go and make another Disney movie. It would be terrifying. It’s a whole different climate. There’s a lot of fear there.”
Cage was a go-to action star in the late 1990s and early 2000s, appearing in Jerry Bruckheimer-produced blockbusters such as The Rock, Con Air, and Ghost Rider. However, Nicolas Cage explains that he was frequently irritated by the limits that many of those action hero roles imposed on him.
When I was making Jerry Bruckheimer movies back-to-back, that was just a high-pressure game. There were a lot of fun moments, but at the same time, there was also ‘We wrote this line. It has to be said this way,’” Cage shared. “They’d put a camera on you and photograph you, and order you: ‘Now say the roller skate training wheels line.’ I’d say, ‘I’ll do that, but I’d also like to try it this way.’ On independent movies, you have more freedom to experiment and be fluid. There’s less pressure, and there’s more oxygen in the room.”
In recent years, the actor has explored several off-beat roles with this freedom to experiment, ranging from playing a janitor in Willy’s Wonderland, Red Miller in Mandy, and even voicing both Peter Parker and Superman for animated films. Cage says he’s also enjoyed exploring various offbeat acting methods and personas in recent years, and that smaller projects have allowed him to really play with a variety of options. Many of his scene-stealing characters have also become guilty pleasures for millions of moviegoers.
“It created a kind of culture of what has been labeled ‘Cage rage,’” Cage says of his recent films. “I’m glad it landed. I’m glad it communicated. I’m glad there was an ID there that I shared with other folks in cinema that were interested.”
Pig opened nationwide this week, and critics say that it’s “some of his best, most nuanced work in years.”