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Post Info TOPIC: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001


Faery Queen of Cagealot Castle

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Date: 10:26 PM, 01/10/11
Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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I woke up thinking about this speech today, and it feels a very poignant time to be posting it. Our very own White Fay originally posted this transcript over on CF, thank you Lady Fay!!



Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for receiving an Honorary Fine Arts Degree at California State University in Fulton, California, May 25, 2001.

starry




"Thank you. Thank you to Dr. Milton Gordon, Trustee Larry Gould, the California State University system and the California State University, Fullerton. I am very proud to be an alum of Cal State Fullerton.

I was born on January 7, 1964, in Long Beach, California. From what I understand, I was considered an unusual child. My father thought I was from another planet something in the way I looked and also in the way I looked at the world. I remember thinking that I was different, too, and with every trip to the doctors office, I was shocked that they didnt discover my blood was in fact green and that I had 30 ribs too many with each X-ray.

When I was 4, I was having very colorful and powerful nightmares every night. Hieronymous Bosch-like characters would visit me and 50-foot tall, blonde women would grab me out of the bathroom. I was being chased by clowns and ventriloquist dummies all of which, of course, were in my overactive imagination, but I could make them very real for myself just by, just by thinking about them. I began to dread going to sleep at night. Around the time of my sixth birthday, I realized that I had to get the hell out of here, whatever here is. I was sitting on the living room floor watching TV and a show came on whose name I forget, but on it I saw two youths fall into the TV within the TV, and they were all excited about walking through this TV world. I knew then that I wanted to escape inside the TV as well. I think this is my first memory of wanting to be an actor.

What is interesting to me is that this blurry, half-formed almost subconscious notion of wanting to be on screen was coinciding with a time when my imagination was at its most fertile and beleaguered. I point this out because it illustrates so clearly the fuel needed for the creation of art. Art is imagination. Art is the need to express the imagination on screen, in sound, on canvas, anywhere.

What about artists survival? I began to grow up. Im now 12 and I'm going to school on a bus. Everyday I'm getting beat up by the older bully on the bus because he wants my hostess cupcake in my lunch bag. I'm skinny and weak and I can't fight. I wake up in the morning and I decide to wear my older brothers cowboy boots. I put some tight jeans on, I wear a pair of black sunglasses and I'm chewing my bubble gum with attitude. I slick back my hair and I get on the bus. Im not Nick, I tell the boy. I'm his cousin, Roy Wilkinson, and if you steal his cupcake again I'm going to have to come back here and kick your ass. From that day on the bully never bothered me again.

Well what is the point of this story but that I needed to become someone else to survive. I needed to act like someone else in order to believe I was strong. I needed to trick my mind. This was my first and best performance because I knew then that I could act and convince people I was what I told them. I could create characters. From that point on I became fascinated in playing characters all over the place. I was rarely ever just myself. Sometimes, I would star in small super 8 movies; my brother would direct and I would act in them.

Throughout this time, I was watching the million-dollar movie on TV and they would show fun films with Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be cool like that. It was the perfect fantasy for a skinny kid. I had a camera on me in my mind at all times. I had close-ups and pan-outs. My favorite was when I would be walking down the street and the camera would crane up until I became smaller and smaller in the street, like at the end of a movie. I was obsessed with being a film actor.

When I was 15, I discovered great acting. I walked into a revival theater, this was before video, and I watched the James Dean trilogy. I saw 'East of Eden' and 'Rebel Without a Cause' and 'Giant'. All of them were great, but it was 'East of Eden' that profoundly changed my life. Dean plays the misunderstood wild child to perfection. Nobody understands his mean nature, least of all him, but he wants to be loved so much by his father and yet he can't seem to earn it. Finally, in what is probably the most heart-wrenching scene I have ever watched on film, he tries to give the money he has saved growing string beans to his father for his birthday. The father played by Raymond Massey cant accept it. The depth of pain that Dean projects in that scene destroyed me. I was more moved by that than any other art form, more than any painting or piece of music.

I knew then that that was exactly what I wanted to do. Express my pain and other feelings through acting and hopefully shed some light on someone else's life in the process. That is what art does. You can heal yourself through art. You can cleanse your psyche and soul and the result can, in turn, heal someone else because they can relate and feel that they are not alone. I believe fine art is not time-sensitive. It can heal people forever.

What did we do before we had therapists? We listened to the piano player. We read great novels like Dostoyevsky's 'Brothers Karamazov' and related to the situations the characters went through. Art can also just simply make you reflective or even happy for a few seconds, listening to an Elvis or Beatles song, or Stavinsky on the radio.

As artists, we keep the people of the world in a collective consciousness. We define ourselves on a relationship to the time we live in through art. So how does one stay an artist? How do you protect your instrument? Elia Kazan once said that talent never dies, it can be discouraged, but it never dies. Ive often thought that as actors we are the instrument and when we fail, as we must, we will be criticized. It will be very painful because you can't hide. You can't say: My guitar was out of tune. You have to take the stone squarely on the chin and you have to ask yourself if you can handle it. How badly do you want it? How hungry are you to be an artist and bare your soul to a world who may hate you for it. Are you willing to be publicly humiliated in the hopes that your peers may understand your art or simply just that you understand it?

I think its important that we all define success to ourselves as we embark on our life in art and any reason is valid. Do you want to become an artist because you want to be rich? Well then, make your choices based on that. Play it somewhat safely, dont piss too many people off and select work that will appeal to a lot of people. Do you want to be an artist because you want to be famous? Well that you can do a lot of different ways. You can become very famous, very quickly by eating a cockroach in a movie. Do you want to be an artist because you want to meet girls and have them tear your clothes off? Make your choices based on that. Do you want to be an artist because you want to change the world in some way, any way at all? They are all good reasons, but perhaps the best reason is because you can't help it, because it is inconceivable to you to do anything else, because without it you can't survive because you could go crazy or broke or have no meaning in your life.

I've always believed in treating my mind and body right, getting enough rest and exercise and fueling my imagination with the artistic achievements of others. But I also believe it's important to take chances in life. I believe the universe does away with that which sits on a fence; it destroys it because it has to make room for others. I don't ever want to sit idle in fear, I want to love and lose, if that's the way it has to be. I want to drive fast and eat and make love to remind me that I don't need to fear death. I want experience. People often ask me why I work so much. I have to act. I can't survive if I don't. I can't help it. If I dont express myself, I start to get depressed.

I'm convinced that if I didn't act, I would have tried to be a fisherman, and failing that, I would have gone into a criminal life. That's how bad I needed it. And sometimes a criminal mind is what's needed to be good at it. Sometimes I would tell myself: Dont be afraid to break the law with your art, nothing is definite, nothing is impossible. I will fail from time to time, but I might succeed in developing something new. Form and structure are important to learn but having learned it, break it, challenge it, change it. Never trap yourself in one style. I would never get comfortable. And to protect my instrument, I would submerge myself in books and music and painting and borrow from it. I heard Lou Reed sing a song completely out of tune and the bad sound hooked me. I realized that the out of tune singing was his style intentionally and I liked it, so I copied it when I did 'Peggy Sue Got Married'. I acted out of tune intentionally. Artist's style, abstract style, natural style, surreal, documentary, cubist, romantic comedy, action, why limit my voice to just one. And there is art synthesis. You can express the experience of a painting when you're acting or a novel when you are singing. My reviews for 'Peggy Sue Got Married' were some of the worst in my career. But at the time I remember thinking I wouldn't be happy unless I got bad reviews.

Well, why is that? I remember I was interested in Edvard Munch and I loved his paintings. I loved The Scream. I read that his work was hated initially because it broke form from what was popular at the time. I wanted to break form too. I wanted to affect people. I didn't just want to be liked. I believed to be despised in art at times is more visceral than to be liked. You are truly affecting people deeply then and they won't bullshit about it. And who knows, perhaps what was once despicable, matures into something beautiful with time.

What is beautiful anyway? According to Carlotti, the definition of beauty is a summation of the parts working together in such a way that nothing needs to be added, taken away or altered. I say don't be afraid to be beautiful in your ugliness. I think purity is more important than anything else. But again for me it all comes down to need.

In the words of Werner Herzog, if you want to be a film director but you don't have the money, then steal the camera and steal the film. It's got to be that important to you. You've got to need it that much. As artists we have a different license than other people. We have the license to go straight up the devils ass, smile at him and survive.

What you've learned here at school is important, and you have achieved a remarkable honor today. But experience is your teacher now; vicarious living is over.

Don't be afraid to go out there and live and record and then vomit it back out on all of us.
Thank you."

Nicolas Cage.

 





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Nicalicious

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Date: 10:38 PM, 01/10/11
Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Ah, I haven't read this in a while, very apt, Lula. And an excellent speech too.

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Faery Queen of Cagealot Castle

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Date: 11:25 AM, 01/11/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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I agree Lady True, a magnetic, inspiring, empowering speech!!! starry

and I am most struck, all over again, by the openness and self integrity of it....and the driving passion behind it. My particular favourite part is about the 'having no choice' about being an artist or creative..I can really identify with that in terms of things like writing, beginning this forum even, the drive comes from nowhere and you have no choice, it bypasses all considerations or even cognition of the mind...I feel it can apply to anything in life ...being in alignment with that which spontaneously arises within and through you...it truly is amazing that that pulse has continued to throb for Nic in order to remain in alignment with his bringing his characters to life..perhaps that is why, and he has said as much, he selects the roles he does..because he has to follow where he is being pulled from his internal unconscious compass!! and in that sense he truly does have no choice about it!starry

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Nicolicious

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Date: 10:10 PM, 01/11/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Without wanting to make light of the genuine terrors of childhood... I want to see a movie based on Nic's childhood nightmares! ;D

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Faery Queen of Cagealot Castle

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Date: 10:39 PM, 01/12/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Lol, it sure would be one horrifying but mythical landscape if it had any resemblance to Heironymous Bosch ....just looking at a painting like the garden of earthly delights is enough to make you wonder whether you are asleep or dreamin....the reason i woke up with this on my mind was I had been with my young nephew who had been having nightmares.

Did you happen to catch tThis Nic interview Sprocket?

Do you think you’ve scratched your scary movie itch?
I hope I have more than one. And I’m hoping that one day, when I get a little more time, I can direct one. That’s the plan, but that’s probably not going to be until I get into my 50s. So I’ve got a little time.

What type of scary movie do you think you’d like to direct?
I think it’s a mixture of the kind of Japanese dream logic that we see in movies like Ringu and The Grudge combined with a sort of antebellum southern United States grandiosity. I’ll try to find a way to marry those two elements to make a horror film. I was thinking about a... well, I don’t know if I should talk about it because I haven’t written it yet.


actionstarsmile

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Nicalicious

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Date: 11:08 PM, 01/12/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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You know I remember having very vivid imaginings about going into a pivcture I liked that we had hanging in our house It was some kind of pastoral scene, had forgotten about it till this thread. Not an original idea, lots of fiction with that kind of premise, but interesting to think of it through my child's eyes.

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Faery Queen of Cagealot Castle

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Date: 11:18 PM, 01/12/11
Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Were they nightmarish or happy dreams Lady True? I have always had tunnels in dreams and portals into other dimensaions..and funnily enough i went through a very scary clown nightmare dream stage as a child i would wake up screaming...I remember feeling like a had a weight on my chest and i couldnt move and this clown was big and close laughing this maniacal way...maybe there really is a big old nasty clown in dreamland..and only kids of a certain age have the displeasure of seeing him....ormaybe the clown is an archetype in the collective unconscious....then i learnt i had some control in my dreams and could change things like make clowns disappear!magicwand

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Nicalicious

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Date: 11:40 PM, 01/12/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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No, those imaginings were not dreams, and not scary at all.

But I did have very frightening dreams of a little secret door and something really awful that was going to come out of it. God I had forgotten about that. Freaky.

Those were horrible dreams, Lula! Clowns are scary! Stephen King's Pennywise is horrifying, and that clown in The Spawn, that would give anyone nightmares. Have you seen that movie?  Parents have no idea what their children are going through, really, cause they forget what it was like when they were children.

Interestingly enough, or maybe not!  I am reading a book right now written as if by a dog (sounds dumb but it's not) and he just saw a clown for the first time, so interesting to read how the author imagines a dog would view a clown.


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Nicolicious

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Date: 8:04 AM, 01/25/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Wow I haven't read this speech before! I must say, it is just so powerful. I can clearly see how Nic's passion for movie and acting becomes bigger and stronger and more intense. It makes me happy and really inspires me. I decide to attend Fine Arts University when I finish my 12th grade (my great-uncle saw some of my little works, he decided to pay for my university money if I continue drawing!). I will take real art classes this summer (yeah I never take a real art class before) and I just can't wait for it!

I'd been trying to create a style of drawing of my own. But then I realize that "I just can't push myself, I've gotta be me". Now I draw what I feel like I want to draw and I watch how other artists do it. I'd love to be weird. Weird is nice, and I'm proud that I've learned that from Nic :).

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Faery Queen of Cagealot Castle

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Date: 11:19 AM, 01/25/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Space Knight wrote:

Wow I haven't read this speech before! I must say, it is just so powerful. I can clearly see how Nic's passion for movie and acting becomes bigger and stronger and more intense. It makes me happy and really inspires me. I decide to attend Fine Arts University when I finish my 12th grade (my great-uncle saw some of my little works, he decided to pay for my university money if I continue drawing!). I will take real art classes this summer (yeah I never take a real art class before) and I just can't wait for it!

I'd been trying to create a style of drawing of my own. But then I realize that "I just can't push myself, I've gotta be me". Now I draw what I feel like I want to draw and I watch how other artists do it. I'd love to be weird. Weird is nice, and I'm proud that I've learned that from Nic :).



Hi Space Knight! it is truly lovely to see you !!hug

And this is wonderful news, well done for following the strongest pull of where your passion takes you, and i can definitely see how Nics' words would inspire...to go where you have no choice but to go!! flowerface

For what it's worth, 'weird' for me is a label.. imposed from the outside..from someone who decided what was 'normal' (an equally obtuse label) so maybe just forget about the label and continue to just be who you are, and follow that pull that you know is true for you!
I am excited for you Caz, thanks for sharing and thank you for being inspiring yourself! starry



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Nicalicious

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Date: 11:58 PM, 12/26/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Found this picture on Flickr and made a snip of it, since I couldn't save it.

mmnnbb.png



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NIColicious Enchantress

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Date: 9:03 AM, 12/27/11
RE: Nicolas Cage's Acceptance Speech for his Honorary Fine Arts Degree in 2001
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Really great find, Lady T.! He looks sooo NIColicious with this robe. :)

And, thank you for posting this wonderful, NICxcellent and encouraging speech, Lula! :)

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"When you think about magic, it is imagination plus willpower focused in such a way that you can create a conscious effect in the material world..."

Nicolas Cage


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