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Post Info TOPIC: Nicolas Cage on ‘The Runner’ and Political Sex Scandals


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Date: 3:49 AM, 09/08/15
Nicolas Cage on ‘The Runner’ and Political Sex Scandals

In “The Runner,” Nicolas Cage plays Colin Pryce, a southern Louisiana congressman taking on the 2010 BP Oil spill. It’s clear from the outset that Pryce is a compassionate guy who cares deeply about his constituents, whose lives are uprooted because of the disaster. But Pryce and his libido end up being his own worst enemy, and he’s forced to try and rebuild his damaged career after a sex scandal exposes him. Along for the ride is veteran New Orleans actor Wendell Pierce (“The Wire,” “Treme”) and Sarah Paulson (“12 Years a Slave,” “American Horror Story).

Read More: Will There Be a “National Treasure 3″ ? 

For Cage, “The Runner” is a more quiet, subdued performance compared to his bigger roles of the last 10 years, like treasure-hunting history buff Ben Gates from the “National Treasure” movies or “Ghost Rider.” Cage’s next projects though are much different from big action flicks and introspective indie films. He just finished shooting two films: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, about the ship hit by Japanese torpedoes at the end of the World War II, causing hundreds of deaths and “Army of One,” the new Larry Charles film about Gary Faulkner, the man who tried to track and kill Osama Bin Laden by himself.

The Journal spoke with Cage about his latest film and career. Below, an edited transcript:

In “The Runner,” you play Colin Pryce, a politician trying to help rebuild the Gulf Coast after the BP oil disaster. Did that event affect you personally?

Only in that I saw the enormous impact it had on one of my favorite cities in the world. How it shut down the fishing industry, the restaurant industry – they’re all connected. New Orleans prides itself on its ability to share a very unique and special style cuisine. The cajun and creole style of cuisine largely uses shrimp and crab and fish. When the oil spill happened, that got derailed. A lot of people lost their jobs. The city lost a lot of money. It did affect me and I felt bad for those people.

Your character’s ambitions get off course because of a sex scandal. Why do politicians attract sex scandals?

That is largely why I made the movie. I see this happening in an increasingly high rate of speed. Without mentioning any names, I looked at all the stories of the various people that might come to mind. I started thinking that it’s become a tool within the political forum to win or not to win, against your opponent. It is a race and these are people with very human natures. Some of them have flaws by whatever you consider appropriate or acceptable in society. If you catch somebody in that flaw, you can get them out of a race. This happens increasingly often. I wanted to hold a mirror up to that, without leaning on any side. Just sort of reflect what I see happening.

Even in my world, as a film performer, I’ve noticed that film commentary has really dramatically changed. The vanguard of film commentary was people like a young Paul Schrader and certainly Roger Ebert. They were all about film making, the quality of the work, the quality of the performance, or the inequality. I see more and more this TMZ mindset infiltrating the film commentary. I think ultimately, it’s doing a disservice to the film itself.

Do you read a lot of reviews or criticism?

Yes and no. Sometimes I will look at it whether it’s a good review or bad review, just to see if any of the personal needs that I had for the character landed. Even in a bad review, I’ve seen that it did land. And I was happy with it. There are, at times, choices that I’ve made where I wanted to get an effect and I knew going into it that it would rub some critics the wrong way. But I still achieved what I wanted. I started [acting] when I was 15. So it’s getting close to 40 years of this. When I began film acting, and I wanted to be James Dean, we lost him at 24. I’m going to be 52 and there’s only so many times I can try to be James Dean. I had to go into other areas that kept me interested, kept me excited about movies and film performance. I would look at horror films, I would study Christopher Lee and say “What is it that they’re doing that’s so compelling?” I’d look at Brando, I’d look at Nicholson, Pacino, Hopkins and say “What is it they’re doing?” I’d say “What can I do that might be unique with film acting?”

I enjoy art. I love looking at Francis Bacon’s pictures. And I love music. My quiet moments, where I enjoy some Chopin. And I also like things like [Karlheinz] Stockhausen and John Cage and avant-garde and electronic. I was trying to see if I could do something more avant-garde or baroque with film performance. I knew the risks I was taking. But it kept me interested.

Has the way you prep for roles changed since the early days?

It’s changed in that I feel I’ve developed a short-hand to performance where I don’t need to torture myself for the entire movie. Three months of filmmaking, where I don’t need to live the part as much. I don’t know how to put it into words, but it’s like a rush – I have some sort of understanding with myself in what I’m channeling. I’ll read the newspaper and read a story that will break my heart and I’ll bring that up. I have found that it’s gotten easier to get to the required needs of the emotion.

Do you get that rush on every set?

I would like to. Filmmaking is unlike any other job in that you don’t know who your boss is going to be. You don’t know who the other people you’re working with are going to be. You don’t get the luxury of the devil you know. Sometimes, it’s like “Oh my god, you don’t really want any of us to be creative at all.” That can be unnerving. But that’s just part of filmmaking. I haven’t had many bad experiences – it’s been a long time.

Is “The Runner” indicative of projects you’re attracted to these days?

I pick whatever I think is the best opportunity in front of me, in terms of being well-executed. I did want to hold a mirror up to what I see is happening in our country, with these politicians who get derailed by personal media stories. Every since [2013's] “Joe,” I’ve been trying to find a more quiet, internal approach to film performance.

Could you ever be a politician?

No. I’m not wired that way. I often wonder what makes somebody want to be a politician in the first place. I’d like to think it’s because they care, but sometimes it gives me pause for thought.



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