Nicolas Cage is known for his extreme characters and madman persona, so it’s not too surprising to hear that his favorite films of all time include extreme performances from the likes of Marlon Brando, James Dean, Jerry Lewis, and more. The actor recently joined Rotten Tomatoes to name his 13 favorite movies and explain a little bit about why he loves each one so much.
Click through the gallery for Cage’s favorite films, and head over to Rotten Tomatoes for his in-depth explanations.
“I saw it when I was a kid, and that of course really was heartbreaking,” Cage said of François Truffaut’s French New Wave classic. “I felt so bad for the kid in that movie, and he went on to become an actor.”
Cage seleceted one of the most iconic films made by his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. The actor said watching actors like Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper “go off the rails” in their performances had a big impact on his career and the choices he made when he was an actor.
Cage praises Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” as “very fantastical, very transporting and mysterious.” He says Jean Marais’ performance as the Beast, particularly his voice work, originally inspired his own performance in “Moonstruck,” but director Norman Jewison hated what Cage was doing with the character and told him to “drop the Jean Marais.”
Cage agrees with film critics and hails Orsen Welles’ “Citizen Kane” as the “best film ever made.” According to Cage, “Kane” sets the bar for cinematography, acting, and editing. Cage first saw the film when he was eight, and even then Welles’ acting “blew him away.”
Given Cage’s love of unhinged characters, it’s not a surprise to hear he lists Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” among his favorite films. Malcolm McDowell’s performance had such an impact on young Cage that he would glue fake eyelashes on to himself and go to school with them on.
Cage cites “East of Eden” as the movie that made him want to be an actor, specifically James Dean’s lead performance. The actor says watching Dean’s nervous breakdown in the film affected him more than any other performance he ever saw.
“Enter the Dragon” was immediately powerful to Cage because watching Bruce Lee was like watching a superhero in real life. “I’d never seen anything like Bruce Lee, and that movie changed my life,” Cage said, “because it made me believe that a man can actually do these extraordinary things physically, and he was a great actor.”
Cage saw Federico Fellini’s “Juliet Of The Spirits” as a child and it both spooked him and turned him on. “I found it thrilling and psychedelic and colorful,” he said.” Along with “The Wizard of Oz,” another favorite of his, the film planted itself in his brain and gave him nightmares.
Cage ranks Jerry Lewis as one of the great actors, right up there with Marlon Brando. He credits Lewis’ role as Buddy Love in “The Nutty Professor” as having a “huge impact” on his own performance style. Cage admits to borrowing so much from Lewis’ acting that directors have actually told him to “get new material.”
Cage says Sergio Leon’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” blew him away because of the “power in the stillness and silence of Charles Bronson.” He calls the showdown between Bronson’s Harmonica man and Peter Fonda’s bad guy one of the most powerful moments he’s ever experienced at the movies.
Disney’s 1940 animated classic “Pinocchio” is a masterpiece, says Cage. “It has such a beautiful message in it,” he said, “and so much thought went into it, and of course it’s beautifully drawn, and the colors are extraordinary.”
“The War of the Gargantuas” is Cage’s favorite Ishirō Honda movie because it’s “so fantastical and so bizarre.” While the creatures and special effects are impressive, the actor says “Gargantuas” stands out because it also has a personal feeling at its core.
Cage cites “The Wizard of Oz” and “Pinocchio” as the two family films that had the biggest impact on his career. “Oz” has continued to haunt him ever since he first saw it as a child.
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