Nicolas Cage Says He's Never Had A 'Career,' Only 'Work'

Nicolas Cage is having a moment, but it seems he'll be the first to tell you that it's a moment built upon a long filmography full of moments. The "Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" star spoke with Rolling Stone this week in an interview that turned out to be a bit of a career retrospective.

Ever insightful, Cage looked back at some of his best and most interesting roles. He also opened up about the mental framing that keeps him grounded. "I'm not career-minded," the actor said. "My mantra has always been 'work.' I never had a 'career.' I only had 'work.'" Cage noted the difference when discussing what sets him apart from Nick Cage, the fictionalized version of himself whom he plays in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

Every album has a song that works

Cage continued, "I find something in a movie that I think works. It's like a rock album. Maybe not all of it works in the script, but there's one or two songs, one or two scenes that work." His method seems to have paid off, as Cage is recognized not just for the great movies he's done, but for the great performance moments that have made less-great movies better. 

After recent years spent on mostly under-the-radar films, the actor gained acclaim for his turn in soulful drama "Pig" last year. With new fans flocking to Cage's filmography and uncovering deep cuts and hidden gems, his job-by-job mentality seems to be paying off. Refreshingly, the actor doesn't seem to weigh any one gig above another, recognizing the best bits of each. In conversation with Rolling Stone, he says:

"I think that I did some of the best work of my life in that so-called 'Direct To Video' period. 'Massive Talent' was in that group. 'Mandy' was in that group. 'Pig,' 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,' 'Joe,' 'Mom and Dad,' 'Color Out Of Space' — they were all in that group."

Over the course of his recent press tour, Cage has done a great job demystifying the art of acting, reminding fans that it doesn't always have to be spoken about in the most elevated, self-flattering terms. Sometimes it is a job, but even so, it can still be enjoyable. Last month, he told GQ magazine that "when I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all." He seems to be saying something similar here.

There's something gently profound about Cage's ability to see some good in every movie, especially in an era when the immediate feedback loop of social media values quick and sometimes cruel first impressions. He might be onto something here.

"The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" premieres April 22, 2022 in theaters.