Nicolas Cage has received excellent reviews in director David Gordon Green’s evocative drama Joe, a project which features him as the titular ex-convict. Hell bent on staying out of trouble, the kindhearted yet temperamental Joe is pulled back into a life of complication after befriending a 15-year-old boy (Tye Sheridan).
Green wrote Cage a letter expressing his interest in the actor for Joe. Cage then read the script and also perused the novel Larry Brown’s novel. After visiting the filmmaker in Texas for several days and bonding over tacos, it was essentially a done deal.
For Cage, the return to naturalistic acting on Joe was a change of pace from what he describes as a abstract style of Western kabuki acting he applied to his action adventure roles.
“I was at this point where I wanted to find a part where I didn’t design the performance,” said the actor, who also did excellent work opposite John Cusack and Vanessa Hudgens in The Frozen Ground. “Whatever mistakes I made in the past, which I won’t go into detail with, I wanted to put them into a character (and give) a portrayal of understanding. Use the mistakes so I wouldn’t have to act so much.”
“When I read the script (for) Joe, I understood why he was in the situations he found himself in,” said Cage. “I understood his need for restraint. I understood the dialogue and so I thought, ‘this is what I’m looking for, I could just be. I could just feel this.”
Nicolas Cage’s first feature film was the 1982 flick Fast Times at Ridgemont High (he is credited as Nicolas Coppola), so one would assume he has tones of great acting advice to offer.
Click on the media bar below to hear Cage explain why putting yourself on video is an important element of the audition process:
Joe is now playing in select theaters and is available on iTunes and VOD.
Based on Larry Brown’s novel of the same name, “Joe” centers on ex-con Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage), a man who’s trying to stay out of harm’s way. His quick trigger temper, which is usually aimed at police officers or town irritants (Ronnie Gene Blevens), isn’t making that job any easier.
Our protagonist’s solitary life takes a turn for the better, as he befriends a troubled teenager named Gary (Tye Sheridan) who lands a job with Ransom’s tree poisoning crew. Both Cage and Sheridan share an innate chemistry, and the narrative also contains chilling work from novice actor Gary Poulter as Gary’s deadbeat, alcoholic father. Sadly, Poulter died before he could fully appreciate the fruits of his labor.
Directed by David Gordon Green (“George Washington,” “Undertow”), the Southern set drama features has Cage approaching his role in a subtle and naturalistic manner. The actor also tried to make his character as real as possible, as he impressed the crew with his handling of a real cottonmouth snake. Cage, in his own eccentric fashion, described the experience as “very calming..and kind of beautiful.”
The highlight from this week’s “Joe” press conference came from an out of left field Nicolas Cage story, in which he attempted to connect a scene from “Joe” with the importance of eating Häägan-Dazs ice cream and watching a Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris action sequence.
For Cage, attempting to link seemingly incongruous elements is a process he gleaned from his father, who spent his career as a professor. “As a result of my relationship with him, sometimes I talk around in circles,” said the actor. “And sometimes I say things that either land or don’t land. Sometimes I say something really succinct.”
To hear Mr. Cage link “Joe” with Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, his dad, and Häägen-Dazs ice cream, click on the audio below:
“Joe” opens April 11 in theaters and On Demand.