There's a scene in the film Never on Tuesday where a young, prosthetic-nose'd Nicolas Cage emerges from a swerving red sports car. He's lanky and cartoonish, like a real-life Hotel Transylvania character. He speaks two lines in an exceptionally weird voice, laughs like a maniac and promptly drives off.
Thirty years later, Cage's uncredited cameo in the film went viral on Twitter.
"Do Oscar nominations have a statute of limitations???" someone tweeted. That's how Cage manages to stay lodged in the public consciousness. The 55-year-old actor has done 20 films in the past two years, but the legend of Nic Cage seems to exist outside any particular film or role, sustained by the memorably meme-able facial expressions and performances that have helped him achieve cult status on the internet.
Yet Cage planted the seeds of that legend the old-fashioned way: by taking a lot of different roles and being a great interview when magazines and talk shows came calling.
He has starred in gonzo action flicks and quiet indie films, playing a curiously diverse range of characters, and with each new movie release, came a fresh round of news media coverage. Every few years, audiences get an exaggerated glimpse of Cage's eccentric lifestyle, often from the actor himself.
A Los Angeles Times profile of a 22-year-old Cage revealed he has an affinity for marine animals: He owned a baby pet octopus and two large aquariums filled with sea creatures. (There's a rumour that he once bought a US$150,000 — $232,000 — octopus to help him with his acting.)
While promoting The Sorcerer's Apprentice in 2010, Cage told David Letterman that he once took magic mushrooms with his Burmese cat Lewis.
During a media tour for Trespass in 2011, Cage said he confronted a naked invader in his house. For another 2011 thriller, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, he said he drew acting inspiration from his pet cobra. In 2015, the actor returned a stolen Mongolian dinosaur skull he purchased for US$276,000 at an auction.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Cage again enthralled the internet by bolstering his credentials as Hollywood's weirdo laureate. Here are some highlights:
His relationship with Johnny Depp
Cage said he rented out an old building in Hollywood to Depp and the two were "good friends". At the time, according to Cage, Depp wanted to be a musician and claimed he couldn't act. Cage said he sent Depp to meet his agent to audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street, a role Depp secured.
His quest for the Holy Grail
Cage went on a self-proclaimed "grail quest". "You read a book, and in it there's a reference to another book, and then you buy that book, and then you attach the references," Cage said. He even went to the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, and Rhode Island to search for the Holy Grail. The outcome of the quest depends on how you interpret Cage's ultimate realisation: "What is the grail but earth itself?"
Prince, primal-screaming and therapy
In April, a clip of Cage rage-singing Purple Rain at a karaoke bar went viral online. It coincided with his four-day marriage to girlfriend Erika Koike in Las Vegas and the consequent annulment. The actor likened his rendition of the Prince song to "primal-scream therapy", stating that his goal wasn't to sing, but to scream.
With regard to clinical therapy, Cage said that he hasn't gone for at least 20 years. There were benefits, he said, but there was a point where he would look at his therapist and think: "Why am I talking to you? I'm more interesting than you."