Tom Jolliffe on some of the recent characters Nicolas Cage has been tasked with playing (including himself and now Joe Exotic)…
It’s been a couple of months now. We’ve all seen Tiger King right? Good. Well, this only in America tale of exotic animals, cults, murder plots, murder cover ups (potentially) and everything in between has become an injection of insanity to help keep people sane during quarantine. There were a number of utterly bizarre, largely reprehensible characters through the show, but of particular infamy the internet has been sent abuzz by Joe Exotic in particular. He’s certainly a one off, whether it was having two husbands at once, neither of whom were actually gay, and one of whom was 32 years his junior, or persistently (and publicly) making it clear his utter hatred of Carole Baskin, Exotic never held back. If you’ve not watched it yet, all five of you, then it’s recommended… if only for the sheer head scratching lunacy human civilisation is capable of delivering.
How does one even approach the prospect of potentially having an actor play someone so ‘unique’ as Joe Exotic? Who has the range, the ability of delivering such complex quirkiness and dark hidden underbelly? There’s only one person who is able to dial the crazy up convincingly enough to do such a larger than life character justice. You can’t merely do an impersonation. This is the thing. It wouldn’t work. It needs to be Exotic in shades with a unique flourish all of its own. There’s only one man capable of it and by Jove, CBS have actually gone and apparently secured the services of that very man to do it. It is of course Nic Cage. Who else? The fictionalised drama incarnation of Joe will be equal sprinklings of Exotic and Cage and his own unique brand of quirkiness. The thing is, there’s this real fine line. This could be absolutely brilliant or absolutely terrible, but even being the latter would be brilliant. This is what you call Cage Roulette, and this is a case where the game is rigged to win every time.
Cage is on something of a roll of late too. After a good few years of predominantly uninspired straight to video ignominy he wasn’t quite producing the sort of iconic levels of ‘Cageness’ he was classically capable of. As the internet memed him to Valhalla and back and made a film like Vampires Kiss a cult classic, his career was dwindling. Then came Mom & Dad. An enjoyable B movie that decided to tap into Cage’s mania in a way that would work well. Even better came with Mandy, which frankly, for it’s sheer genre and influence melding freshness, is a horror masterwork which became a cult favourite almost immediately (and I feel it’s appeal will grow further in time). Cage tapped into that ’11’ setting as only he and select few can, but possibly for the first time there was a feeling it actually fit entirely logically within the context of the story and the world of the film. Since then Cage has delivered in Richard Stanley’s enjoyable comeback The Color Out of Space.
So then, what of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – a film featuring Nicolas Cage as a character? Who can play him? Well, it’s got to be the man himself. Whilst many can do a good Nic Cage impression they certainly can’t capture those lightning in a bottle instincts of manic energy and unpredictability that the main man is capable of. Cage as Cage will see him tasked with helping the CIA take down a Cartel. The prospect of Cage sending himself up is mouth watering. Is it possibly he could reach a level even he felt impossible to attain. Can he dial it up past 11? Is the world ready for that? Will it crash the Matrix? The answer to all those questions is yes.
Cage among all these golden nuggets continued to deliver a prolific run of films, and still a share of rather disappointing straight to video churn-out jobs, but regardless, the man, the myth, the legend has reached a level of cult-dom where brave creatives want to tap into that power that only he has. He’s getting these kind of opportunities, where someone like John Travolta (who in the 90’s was giving Cage a good battle in histrionics) isn’t getting those shots. Whilst the big budget mainstream roles are still eluding him, he seems to have a cult following like never before. It’s a definite Cage-naissance that will continue with roles as himself and Joe Exotic, and who knows quite what beyond? Can that be bettered?
What do you think about Cage playing Joe Exotic? Is Carole Baskin guilty? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our Twitter page @flickeringmyth…
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020/21, including The Witches Of Amityville Academy (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch), Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil and the star studded action film, Renegades. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.