Unbearable Weight: Star Nicolas Cage Initially Horrified by Pitch
Upon its surface, an actor like Nicolas Cage would probably be squeamish and tentative before taking on a project like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, given the nature of its story. The film follows Cage playing a fictionalized version of himself that goes to a wealthy superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal) home for his birthday party, who happens to have questionable shady dealings as federal investigators try to infiltrate his criminal empire. They try to enlist the actor to find evidence for them to take him down. The initial reaction from Cage about the meta-comedy was skeptical, to say the least, as the cast and crew opened up to Variety about the upcoming Lionsgate film.
"There was no muscle in my body that told me I should play a character named Nick Cage; it was absolute horror," Cage said. "However, the director wrote me a very intelligent, sensitive letter, and in that letter, I knew he was a true film enthusiast that likes some of the earlier work. He wanted to make a movie that was about people, not about caricatures or cartoons." It's not the first time Cage experienced a parody of himself as he appeared on an episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live while promoting Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance during a "Weekend Update" segment sharing time with then-cast member Andy Samberg doing his impression in front of him beside host Seth Meyers.
In Unbearable Weight, the fictionalized Cage is on the verge of retirement and is "highly neurotic" and an "anxiety-filled interpretation." Before making his official announcement, he accepts the birthday invitation and starts to find out the harsh truth of his wealthy benefactor. "It was a balancing act. Like I'm on a high wire, and if I slipped, it was a pretty big fall. I had to facilitate the vision of so-called Nick Cage," the actor said. Director Tom Gormican reflected on his passionate pitch.
"[Cage] just wanted to make sure we weren't out to make fun of him or make fun of the things he's done. We took it seriously, and once he understood that, he became more and more comfortable with [co-writer Kevin Etten] and I as filmmakers," Gormican said. "I think he was a little put off until he understood. We said to him, 'There are ideas people have of who you are, and there's actually who you are, and somewhere in the middle, we're gonna find the movie.' We said this entire thing is the chance to take the reins of that narrative and become a big piece of performance art. Once he looked at it that way, he started to come around."
For more, including the differences between the real Cage and the fictional one, you can go to Variety. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Sharon Hogan, Lily Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, and Paco Leon. The film comes to theaters on April 15th.