Nicolas Cage PROFILE
Not many people can boast that they were expelled from elementary school only to later find a career that would provide a seven-figure salary, but Nicolas Cage is one of the few so anointed. The nephew of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Cage changed his name so that his acting career would not be chalked up to nepotism. He chose "Cage" out of admiration for avant-garde musician John Cage. Even if he had retained the family name, it's not likely that anyone would consider Cage a slacker, holding fast to his uncle's coattails. Stories abound concerning the extremes to which he will go to "feel" his roles, not the least of which was the time he had a tooth extracted without novocaine in order to fully appreciate the pain suffered by the wounded soldier he played in the 1989 film Birdy.
Born January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, California to a literature professor father and dancer/choreographer mother, Cage first got into acting while a student at Beverly Hills High School. After dropping out at the age of 17, he made his film debut with a small part in Amy Heckerling's 1982 classic, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Following a lead role in 1983's Valley Girl, Cage spent the remainder of the decade playing endearingly bizarre and disreputable men, most notably in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Raising Arizona (1987), and the same year's Moonstruck, the last of which won him a Golden Globe nomination and a legion of female fans ecstatic over the actor's unconventional romantic appeal.
The 1990s saw Cage take on a string of diverse roles ranging from a violent ex-con in David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990) to a sweet-natured private eye in the romantic comedy Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) to a dying alcoholic in Mike Figgis's astonishing Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. For this last role, Cage won a Best Actor Oscar for his quietly devastating portrayal, and, respectability in hand, gained an official entrance into Hollywood's higher ranks. After winning his Oscar, along with a score of other honors for his performance, Cage switched gears again, choosing to star in a series of big-budget action films. 1996 saw him take the lead in the Alcatraz thriller The Rock, and the following year he made Con Air and John Woo's Face/Off, the latter of which attained overwhelming critical as well as commercial success. 1998 marked Cage's return to sentimental romance with his performance as a love-struck angel in City of Angels, a remake of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. Rejecting the possibility of continuity, Cage next made the crime thriller 8MM (1999), in which he played a surveillance expert investigating the suspicious death of an actress in the underground porn industry. The same year, he starred as a burnt-out paramedic in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead, sharing the screen with such notables as real-life wife Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, and Ving Rhames.