Born as Nicolas Kim Coppola, American actor Nicolas Cage’s Hollywood acting career has spanned more than three decades. Over that time, Cage has been recognized for his successes on screen with a host of film awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Throughout his career, Cage has attracted controversy off-screen for multiple failed relationships and, more recently, real estate and tax issues. While Cage has been sorting out his legal problems, he has appeared in a number of smaller roles. However, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Cage, as he has many large budget releases coming out. Whether any of these films catapult Cage back into the limelight remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure-he is known as one of America’s finest modern-day actors, particularly for these five performances.
In 2004, Nicolas Cage took on the role of Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and treasure hunter. In the film, Cage’s character is the descendant of a line of treasure hunters. During the initial scenes, Cage is ridiculed for his belief that the founding fathers hid national treasure in the early nineteenth century. Cage and his companions travel across the nation to find a series of clues that may potentially lead them to find this alleged treasure. Cage’s performance was well received by moviegoers, and the film became the highest-grossing movie of his career. A sequel was made a few years later, and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” surpassed expectations, performing even better at the box office than the original. Studio bosses obviously see potential in continuing the franchise, and a third and a fourth film are currently in the pipeline.
“Lord of War”
Cage changed things up when he took on the role of Yuri Orlov, an arms smuggler, in “Lord of War.” Cage’s character is based on many different personalities, but it is generally accepted that Orlov is supposed to be Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Cage’s performances as actor and narrator were commended by many human rights groups for raising the issue of international illegal gun sales. While the film was not a huge success at the box office, many film studios bosses recognized that the sensitive and sometimes troubling situation of illegal gun smuggling may have not been for everyone’s tastes.
“World Trade Center”
Directed by Oliver Stone, “World Trade Center” is a stark reminder of on the events of September 11, 2001. Unlike the typical disaster movie, “World Trade Center” does not focus on the terrorist events that took place. Instead, the film is about hope and a battle for survival. Cage plays John McLoughlin, a Port Authority Police officer tasked with traveling to the towers to try to help people escape. In the midst of their rescue efforts, McLoughlin and his partner become trapped under some rubble. The bulk of the film is about McLoughlin’s, and his partner’s, efforts to survive-and their eventual rescue.
In 2007, Cage took on one of his most daring roles yet: Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle rider who becomes the Ghost Rider in order to get his soul back. “Ghost Rider” was panned by film critics before its release, but the film did surprisingly well at the box office. Johnny Depp was originally considered for the lead role; however, Cage found out about the role and, due to his strong interest in the film’s character, cut a deal with movie executives to play the lead. Thanks to the movie’s success, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” was made five years later.
“Leaving Las Vegas”
Based on a novel written by John O’Brien, “Leaving Las Vegas” focuses on a suicidal alcoholic who enters a relationship with a prostitute. During production of the film, the author of the novel committed suicide. Despite this, production on the film continued, with the finished movie released in honor of John O’Brien’s life. Nicolas Cage plays Ben Sanderson, who goes to Las Vegas to live out the last few days of his life. However, Sanderson forms an unlikely friendship with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue). After the film’s release, movie critics praised Cage for his performance, and while the film was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globes, only Cage actually took home a trophy for this tour de force.