Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet” was released in January 2011 after decades of development, but the Seth Rogen-starring action-comedy didn’t make much of an impression with critics or audiences. While the movie was forgettable, the behind-the-scenes drama was just the opposite. Prior to Christoph Waltz joining the cast in the villain role, Nicolas Cage was being courted by Sony. Seth Rogen remembers what went wrong in a hilarious new interview with Vulture.
“When you’re making a movie that expensive the studio has a real say in who you cast,” Rogen explained. “So the studio was like, ‘You gotta make the villain a star. We want you to cast Nicolas Cage.’ So we thought, let’s talk to him. And we do, and he tells us that he wants to do the movie, but he wants to play the character as, like, a white Bahamian or Jamaican. Which to us was a little worrisome. Not that there aren’t white Bahamians, but it seemed perhaps insensitive.”
Sony set up a dinner with Rogen, Cage, co-writer Evan Goldberg, and then-Sony head Amy Pascal so that everyone involved could talk about the villain role.
“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,'” Rogen said. “I was like, ‘I can’t deal with being face-to-face with Nicolas Cage as he’s doing a Bahamian accent.'”
According to Rogen, Cage started breaking out his Bahamian accent 20 minutes into the dinner. The actor only had good things to say about the accent, but he told Vulture that nobody at the dinner felt casting Cage was appropriate.
“I think he could so viscerally tell that we didn’t like the idea that he just left right in the middle of dinner,” Rogen said. “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.”
Waltz ended up landing the part, but the movie bombed at the box office with just $98 million at the domestic box office. Looking back, Rogen wondered if casting Cage and letting him do his crazy thing would’ve been better for the movie as a whole.
“That shit was crazy.” Rogen said. “Which is funny, because in retrospect maybe what he’d wanted to do wouldn’t have been any worse — the movie didn’t turn out so great, so maybe he would’ve made it crazier. Which would’ve at least been interesting.”
IndieWire has reached out to Cage’s representatives for comment.