Nicolas Cage has always had a reputation for being unconventional and during a web chat for Empire Online, he spoke about the unusual acting methods he used to become the Ghost Rider during the filming of the movie ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.’
Cage utilizes an acting technique that he calls Nouveau Shamanic. He describes it as a method that teaches “how not to act” but instead, “how to utilize your dreams, power objects, even taking weekends to experiment with imagination and finding ways of infusing your performances with those experiences so that it’s no longer acting…” According to Cage, this technique would stimulate the imagination allowing the actor to no longer act as “acting implies lying in some way” but instead allowing the actor to become the part making the role more truthful. It was this method that helped him become the Ghost Rider.
“(Playing) Blaze was easy,” says Cage, “I knew he was a man who had been living with a curse for eight years of having his head light on fire, and the tone that would take. I compared him to a cop, or a paramedic who develops a dark sense of humor to cope with the horrors he has seen. But Blaze has also caused the horrors, so he’s hiding out because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.” It was the part of the Ghost Rider that proved a little more challenging:
“It occurred to me, because I was doing a character as far out of our reference point as the spirit of vengeance, I could use these (Shaman) techniques. I would paint my face with black and white make up to look like an Afro-Caribbean icon called Baron Samadhi, or an Afro-New Orleans icon who is also called Baron Saturday. He is a spirit of death but he loves children; he’s very lustful, so he’s a conflict in forces. And I would put black contact lenses in my eyes so that you could see no white and no pupil, so I would look more like a skull or a white shark on attack.
On my costume, my leather jacket, I would sew in ancient, thousands-of-years-old Egyptian relics, and gather bits of tourmaline and onyx and would stuff them in my pockets to gather these energies together and shock my imagination into believing that I was augmented in some way by them, or in contact with ancient ghosts. I would walk on the set looking like this, loaded with all these magical trinkets, and I wouldn’t say a word to my co-stars or crew or directors. I saw the fear in their eyes, and it was like oxygen to a forest fire. I believed I was the Ghost Rider.”
Of all the roles Cage has played, he says that ‘Ghost Rider’ was the most mentally taxing. He recalls one incident that occurred after a long night of filming in Romania. Cage had to attend a Christmas party a few hours after the filming and had a couple of schnapps before going. “I had not entirely let go of whatever magic I had been channeling,” he continued, “and all hell broke loose. In fact, I think I kept saying over and over, “Merry Christmas you assholes!” I am lucky I’m not in a Romanian prison.”
One of the most interesting tidbits from the web chat was the roles that Cage had turned down because of the length of the time commitment involved:
“The only reason why I tend to pass on a movie is either I don’t think I’m right for the material and can’t play it honestly, or because of time constraints with personal things in my life. There were two movies that asked me to go to Australia or New Zealand for long periods of time. One was ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and one was the ‘The Matrix.’ But I was actively involved at that time raising my family and I couldn’t really take that time out.”
Now I’m wondering what roles he was offered! Cage as Neo? Anyway, you can read the full version of the webchat on Empire Online.