‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’: A Suspicious Nicolas Cage Had to Be Convinced That the Script Wasn’t Mocking Him

Actor Nicolas Cage is no stranger to odd roles. In Willy’s Wonderland, which is loosely based on the video game Five Nights At Freddy’s, Cage doesn’t utter a single word throughout the entire movie even though he is the main character. However, his latest work, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, might be one of his most peculiar roles to date.

The premise of the movie: Cage plays himself but goes by the name Nick Cage. However, in the movie, Cage is a down-and-out actor on the verge of financial ruin. He is hired to play a rich fan’s birthday party by the name of Javi, played by Pedro Pascal, who also happens to be an arms dealer. Cage finds himself working with the CIA to take Javi down. Meanwhile, the two collaborate on a script.

Let’s take a look at how this wild satirical film came to fruition.

The idea for ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

Writers Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten wrote the script before they even met Cage. Gormican sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss the writing process. He said, “We were trying to have this bit of a creative rebirth for both of us. All of a sudden we were rediscovering our love, actually, of creating things. And there was a huge degree of difficulty in getting this film made. We knew getting Nick on board was going to be unbelievably hard.”

Gormican recalls a David Letterman interview where Cage tells a story. He is sitting in his house drinking wine and watching his two pet cobras dance for him behind a glass cage. Then, one of the cobras hits the glass like he is trying to kill him.

Gormican says, “Dave is kind of losing it and I’m thinking: This guy’s a true original, an American oddball. He’s so weird in the best possible way. He’s very charming at the same time. I started digging into different performances of his, but I always loved seeing him on those shows.”

What better way to showcase an American oddball like Cage than to write a script where he portrays himself?

Financing for ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

The writers needed to find a financial backer before presenting the script so Cage would take it seriously. They found several interested in the script, but they all wanted to know one thing: Is Cage going to do the movie? The writers explained that they weren’t sure if he would be offended by the script and wanted to secure funding before presenting it to him. 

Gormican says, “When he asked to meet, that was really the thing he wanted to know: ‘Are you guys using this to sort of make fun of me?’ When he understood that we were true fans and wanted to make a celebration of his work, that quelled some of the anxiety in him.” 

Convincing Nicolas Cage to do the movie

Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal smile at each other at the LA special screening of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent"
Stars of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal | Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

One thing that convinced Cage to do the film was the fact that Etten and Gormican featured a younger version of Cage in the film. Cage said, “I find that guy so obnoxious, but I’d love to get back into his skin and present him as a villain in the film.” 

Another factor was changing a part of the script that he would not have liked. He was willing to poke fun at financial difficulties or not getting the scripts he wanted. However, when it came to his children, Cage did not want his character to be an absentee father. In fact, the real-life version of Cage works extra hard not to be an absentee father, even if that meant getting a weekend flight when he was on location shooting just to see his children. So the writers changed that part of the script at the advice of his management team.

Since its release on April 22, 2022, the film has received positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film 87% with an audience score of 87% as well. Hopefully, this is the movie that will bring Cage back to the realm of blockbuster movies.

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