Nicolas Cage Insisted On Staying Unlikable In The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage has been steadily acting for decades, and his career has been rather eclectic. Currently, we are in something of a Cage renaissance with the actor starring in some of his best movies in years, including "Mandy" and "Pig" as a couple of examples. Now, another example of the actor's resurgence has arrived in the form of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," Perhaps the most Cage-y movie to come around in a long time.

The film sees the actor playing a heightened, fictionalized version of himself who is down on his luck and must attend a mega-fan's (played by Pedro Pascal) birthday party to help pay off some of his debts. But this is not Cage putting his truest self out there, it's fiction with a dash of truth. To that end, he very much insisted on being unlikable for the movie's sake.

Unlikable for the sake of the audience

During a recent interview with Collider, Cage discussed some of what went into crafting his character for "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." During the making of the movie, he discovered that certain scenes actually worked better when he was far less likable, even if it didn't necessarily paint him in a better light. Cage said:

"'We've got to make the character more likable, more likable, and then they lose some of the self-deprecating humor or the irreverent humor that Tom had. Like, okay, the piano scene where the character is drunk and he's playing piano and he's making a mess at the birthday party. They homogenized it so much that the Nic Cage character wasn't doing anything wrong. Everybody was rolling their eyes. Like, 'Well, he's just singing a sweet song to his daughter!' You got to make it more of a train wreck at the risk of him being less likable because the character has to grow. He has to evolve into a sensitive family man."

While not everyone is an actor, it is easy to imagine that playing a version of yourself on screen would be a pretty vulnerable position to be in. But to go beyond that and have the presence of mind to choose to be less likable, even if it means being more vulnerable, speaks volumes about Cage as an actor.

Producer Nicolas Cage, actor Nicolas Cage

Another element to this puzzle for Cage is that he wasn't merely a hired gun on this film. He served as a producer as well, which meant that he actually had to put on a different hat and advise both the studio, Lionsgate, as well as director Tom Gormican at times. That's kind of how he arrived at knowing the movie version of Nicolas Cage needed to be less-than-perfect at times. Cage had to divorce himself from the performance in order to arrive at that though. The actor explained:

"I had to watch it because my other hat on this movie was producer, and as a producer, it got to a point where the studio had an opinion and the director had an opinion and it was time for fresh eyes. And I had to shut off half my mind and half my heart and look at the movie from a place of neutral, and as a producer, I was able to say to the studio, 'I think you've got to put some of [director] Tom [Gormican]'s flavor back in the movie. You're losing a lot of the flavor of the comedy.' And to Tom, I had to say, 'I think these two scenes aren't landing.' And I'm glad I did it because I think we finally got to a place where the movie works as a whole in the best possible way, the best of both worlds."

Luckily, Cage was able to separate those two because the movie is undoubtedly all the better for it.

"The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" is in theaters now.