Nicolas Cage Reveals the 1 Movie He Didn’t Want to Make and How He Helped Johnny Depp Get His Start

Nicolas Cage opened up about his long career in Hollywood, his idiosyncratic approach to acting, and the time he spent $276,000 on a dinosaur skull in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times Magazine published on August 7. 

The 55-year-old actor also talked about an early movie that he was reluctant to make and his surprising role in jump-starting a young Johnny Depp’s career. 

Nicolas Cage says he didn’t want to make ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’  

Peggy Sue Got Married
Nicolas Cage and Kathleen Turner on the set of Peggy Sue Got Married | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Cage was born into a famous Hollywood family. His uncle is famed director Francis Ford Coppola, his grandfather was composer Carmine Coppola, and his aunt is actress Talia Shire. But when his uncle offered a young Cage a starring role in his upcoming film Peggy Sue Got Married, he was reluctant to accept. 

“I didn’t want to make that movie. I must have said no five or six times,” Cage told reporter David Marchese. He explained that Coppola compared the film to Our Town, a play that Cage loathed. 

When Coppola agreed to let him do what he wanted with the character of Charlie, Cage signed on. But he clashed with co-star Kathleen Turner and almost got fired by the film’s backers before Coppola stepped in to save his job. 

Cage encouraged Johnny Depp to take up acting 

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp | Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

In the interview, Cage also talked about how he encouraged Johnny Depp to take up acting. The two had become friends in the early 1980s when they lived in the same apartment building and would get together to play Monopoly. 

“He was at the point in his career where he was selling pens or something to get by,” Cage recalled. 

“[W]e would play Monopoly, and he was winning a game, and I was watching him and I said, ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ He wanted to be a musician at the time, and he told me, ‘No, I can’t act.’ I said, ‘I think you can act.’ So I sent him to meet with my agent,” Cage went on to say. “She sent him out on his first audition, which was A Nightmare on Elm Street. He got the part that day. Overnight sensations don’t happen. But it happened with him.”  

Nicolas Cage’s financial woes 

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Cage also talked about his much-publicized financial woes, including his unfortunate decision to spend $276,000 on a dinosaur skull. The skull turned out to have been stolen, and Cage had to return it, which “stank,” he said.

However, the actor explained that it wasn’t quirky purchases like dinosaur skulls and an octupus that caused his money troubles about a decade ago. “My real estate buying spree was what the real problem was,” he said. At one point, Cage owned property in Malibu, New Orleans, and the Caribbean, as well as two castles in Europe. However, he pointed out that although he lost most of his fortune, he never filed for bankruptcy. 

“I had this pride thing where I wanted to work my way through anything, which was both good and bad,” he said. “Not all the movies have been blue chip.”

The actor admitted what many fans have long suspected — that many of his recent films have been paycheck roles he did primarily to make money.

“I can’t go into specifics or percentages or ratios, but yeah, money is a factor,” he said, when discussing his choice of film roles. “I’m going to be completely direct about that. There’s no reason not to be. There are times when it’s more of a factor than not.”

“[I]t’s no secret that mistakes have been made in my past that I’ve had to try to correct,” he added.