Nicolas Cage Green Hornet

Who are the most memorable villains in comic book movie history? Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s Jokers, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki are the obvious heavy hitters in that category, and arguments could be made to include at least half a dozen others. But what about Nicolas Cage rocking a Bahamian accent in Seth Rogen‘s 2011 superhero film The Green Hornet? That one never happened, but according to a new interview with Rogen, it came “really close.” Read his Nicolas Cage Green Hornet story below, and add this to the ever-growing pile of Hollywood’s casting “what-ifs.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Vulture, the conversation turned to The Green Hornet, the 2011 superhero film that starred Rogen as Britt Reid, the son of a newspaper magnate who inherits his father’s fortune, teams up with a mechanic named Kato (Jay Chou), and uses a bunch of high-tech gadgets to fight crime. The movie, which was directed by Michel Gondry, didn’t make much of an impact in the pop culture zeitgeist at the time, but I do sometimes still think about its villain, an L.A. gangster named Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). He’s a self-aware bad guy who wields a ridiculous-looking gun with two barrels and wonders if he should change his name to “Bloodnofsky” because it sounds scarier.

It was widely reported that Nicolas Cage was originally up for that part. We’ve actually written about this before, but in this interview, Rogen explains in more detail why Cage didn’t work out. Turns out the studio suggested him for the villain role, and when Rogen and his co-writer Evan Goldberg met with the actor, they learned that “he wants to play the character as, like, a white Bahamian or Jamaican. Which to us was a little worrisome.”

I’m just going to copy and paste the next section of the interview below, because something about the Q&A formatting of it made me laugh:

***

Rogen: Yeah, not that there aren’t white Bahamians, but it seemed perhaps insensitive. So then we were going to have a big dinner with Nicolas Cage at [producer] Amy Pascal’s house to talk about the movie. And I remember driving to the dinner with Evan and saying, “If he does the white Bahamian thing at the dinner, I’m going to lose it.” [Laughs.] I was like, “I can’t deal with being face-to-face with Nicolas Cage as he’s doing a Bahamian accent.”

So what happened?
Rogen: 
Within 20 minutes of getting to the dinner he’s fully doing it.

Was the accent good?
Rogen: 
It was good! But I think he could so viscerally tell that we didn’t like the idea that he just left right in the middle of dinner. He was just like, “I gotta go.” It was as if I just stood up right now with you and walked out. That’s how abrupt it was. Then he called me two days after that and said, “I’m getting the sense that you don’t want me in this movie.” That’s what happened. But God bless Nicolas Cage. I’m a huge fan.

***

Cage’s take on the character may have been a bit too far afield from what they were going for, but I won’t sit here and say I’m not curious about what it would have been like. At the end of the day, Waltz’s version was fun, but imagining Cage in this role – maybe even going full Cage once or twice – is the stuff cinephile dreams are made of.

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