On Playing a Very Protective Father in The Croods, His Love for Arts, Misconceptions about him, Directing a Movie again, and Writing a Book
Author/Credits: Phil Thompson / The Interview Feed
Photo Credit: Reuters
"I am not an overprotective father. Parents are the bows, children are the arrows"
Question(Q): Nicolas, in "The Croods" you play a father that is very protective of his family. How are you as a dad?
Nicolas Cage (NC): I am not an overprotective father. Parents are the bows, children are the arrows, they will have to find their own way. That’s my mantra. Today turn on the news, there is a legitimate reason to have concerns, but I don’t want to suffocate my children with concern all the time.
Q: Was your father an overprotective dad?
NC: My father was a wild and brilliant painter. He was all about stimulating my imagination for the arts. He would give me books to read like Huxley’s "Brave New World", Melville’s "Moby Dick". He wanted me to go into these books and write the missing chapters. It taught me to understand these characters. I was very young, between 10 and 12.
Q: What did you like when you were a kid?
NC: I loved Van Gogh, Kafka, I was a very introspective kid. And I liked Felix the Cat, Looney Tunes, all the Disney cartoons. I liked Schubert’s 9th Symphony.
Q: Are you going to direct again?
NC: I would like to, but I just couldn’t find the time. And I want to find something I really want to direct. I think I will do it again in the next couple years.
Q: Do actors really make good directors?
NC: Yes, actors make good directors. The reason why is because they know how to talk to other actors. The camera is really a mystery to me. But communicating with actors I am really good at.
Q: Why animation?
NC: It’s a great way to stay in shape as an actor. It’s a total immersion into the imagination. You are in a box and you are being squeezed to find a character. You really have to go inside your own mind to find a character. It’s a great way to report to work and say I still got this. It’s very self-assuring.
Q: You play "Grugg" in "The Croods". What do you have in common with him?
NC: I didn’t relate to "Grugg" much. I don’t agree with a lot of stuff he says. He said "new is bad", "fear is good" and "never be not afraid". I have actively tried to go into the other direction in life and in my jobs. I like that he goes into transformation. He starts at a place where he suffocates his family. At the end he develops a much closer relationship with his daughter.
Q: When did you see the final version of the movie for the first time?
NC: I got to see the movie at the Berlinale for the first time. I really enjoyed it. It was great to play a caveman. My wife liked it. We laughed a lot throughout the movie.
Q: What are you still struggling with as an actor?
NC: Acting doesn’t come easy to me. And that usually means that something is wrong with the script. Sometimes the dialogue just doesn’t go into my body.
Q: How do you get ready for your parts?
NC: Is he happy, is he angry, what are his emotions? Those are questions I ask myself. Sound is important too. I wanted to scream like David Lee Roth, and then I tried to talk like a 50s Jazz guy. I have no idea where that came from.
Q: What’s the biggest risk you ever took?
NC: When I decided to become an actor. Nobody wanted me to become an actor. There was no certainty that it worked. The other path I had in mind was to be like Herman Merville, become a merchant and write books.
Q: What have you not done yet and still want to do?
NC: I am flirting with becoming a writer next. Not a script. I want to write a book.
Q: What’s the best advice you have ever gotten?
NC: The best advice I ever got was from David Bowie. He told me that he never got comfortable with what he was doing. For me that meant take the risk, go for it. It’s important in life.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions floating out there about you?
NC: There are a lot of misconceptions about me. The biggest one is I only make movies for money. I made 70 movies. Maybe one or two I was talked into doing, the rest were all a real experiment, a real risk.
Q: What will your future bring?
NC: I can see myself in 10 or 15 years, living a life of contemplation, writing books. Look, I took the whole year off last year. But this year I am working very hard again. And then I might just do one or two movies again.
Q: What does work mean for you these days?
NC: It’s healthy for me to work. I am operating at a higher level, physically and mentally when focused on my work. It’s a natural thing to do for a person. I do better when I am working.
Q: How have you as a person changed over the last couple years?
NC: I am more sociable today. I am actively seeking out conversation. I like that a lot. Becoming more social has helped me to become a better person.