Nicholas Cage On His Inspiration For Ghost Rider, Scaring Costars, And Arguing Over Handlebar Mustaches

A new Ghost Rider movie opening this Friday brings with it a wonderful side benefit: numerous interviews with Nic Cage saying awesomely eccentric things. For example, did you know Nic Cage based his performance on his pet cobra? (And of course he has a pet cobra.) The video of him talking about — and doing a pantomime of — his pet cobra is below. Even better revelations came from Cage’s interview yesterday with Opie and Anthony. The interview starts at 1:13:00 in this video (which will only be available for a short while), but we’ve transcribed some of our favorite bits from the long interview for your convenience.

He discussed how he thought of the plot to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. (Did you know it was all his idea? It totally was.)

I have to go and find the Devil’s son and bring him to a monastery in Turkey and have him exorcised, and that idea actually came to me because, when I was promoting the first movie, I was in England and I was dressed as Ghost Rider. I liked to wear the leather jacket and the leather pants and the biker boots. And on my lunch break, on a lark, I went to Westminster Abbey not knowing that I was walking into an environmental summit between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope of the Greek Orthodox Church.

And there I was, sitting in the back, and a bishop from Colorado looked at me and went, “Oh, I didn’t know it was you. If I had known it was you, I would have invited you to sit with me. Let me introduce you.” So there I was, shaking hands with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope of the Greek Orthodox Church dressed like Ghost Rider. And then the bishop from Colorado leans over and he whispers in my ear, “And, oh, by the way, I can be naughty, too.” And I was like, okay, what do I do with that? I’ve got it. Let’s have Ghost Rider working with the church. And that’s how Spirit of Vengeance happened. [Transcribed by Gamma Squad, emphasis ours]

Normally, when a bishop talks about being naughty, I don’t expect to hear, “And that’s how Spirit of Vengeance happened” so much as I expect to hear, “And then I blacked out from the date rape drugs, your Honor.” But we’re dealing with Nic Cage here. He’s operating on another level, a level where actors argue with producers over the need for a handlebar mustache to signal to the audience that they’re watching absurdist humor:

Neil LaBute [director of the Wicker Man remake] is famously known for having a kind of twisted, ironic sense of humor […] and I knew, working with him, we could go to some places that would really kind of push it a little bit. Now, when you go running around in a bear suit knocking out a village of women who are blowing viking horns you know it’s somewhat absurd. The flavor of that movie was a mix of being ridiculous and also scary. […]

Originally, when I did The Wicker Man, I wanted to play the cop with a handlebar mustache, one of these macho guys who’s just completely absurd, but the producers wouldn’t let me do it. I think people might have understood a little more — the bloggers and the YouTube folks — that we were kind of in on the joke if I did have the handlebar mustache. But they said, “Look, we paid this amount for you to be in the movie. You will not be wearing a mustache.” I said, “Well, it’s your mistake if they don’t get it.” [Transcribed by Gamma Squad, emphasis ours]

Someone re-release Wicker Man in 3D and CGI in a handlebar mustache. THIS IS IMPORTANT. The story needs to be told how it was originally intended; we have the technology.

But even more awesomely batsh-t than the argument over handlebar mustaches was Nic Cage’s explanation of how he dealt with the artificiality of the CGI effects which created his look in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance:

In order to believe I was the character on some level and not feel completely absurd, I would paint my face to have skull makeup. So I’d use black and white paint. I would black out my eyes so you’d see no white, no pupil, with black contact lenses. I would walk on the set looking like that, and I wouldn’t say a word to anybody. So it was just very uncomfortable for everybody, and that made it so like I didn’t have to act because I could see the fear in their eyes, and then it was just like oxygen to a forest fire, where I just believed I was the Spirit of Vengeance. [Transcribed by Gamma Squad, emphasis ours]

We’re pretty sure if we went to work and Nic Cage showed up with face paint and black contact lenses he brought from home, we’d be sh-tting bricks, too.

[Hat tip to CBM and lglitch719l. Pictures via SomethingAwful and Reddit.]