While on the set of Drive Angry 3D in early May, I got to participate in a small roundtable interview with Nicolas Cage. While studios usually wait till closer to release to let us post on set interviews, I’m giving Summit a lot of credit for letting us get a jump on Comic-Con and lifting the embargo today.
For those not familiar with Drive Angry, you should start by reading my set report. But the quick synopsis is the film “centers on a man (Cage) driven by rage who is chasing the people who killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby. The vendetta/rescue spins out of control as the chase gets bloodier by the mile, leaving bodies strewn along the highway.”
What’s great about the movie is that it’s being filmed in 3D, it’s a super hard R, and it’s from the filmmakers behind My Bloody Valentine. Meaning…expect plenty of blood and guts! I’m super excited. Anyway, while on set Cage told us why he wanted to get involved, what it was like to work on his first 3D movie, and a lot more. Read or listen to what he had to say after the jump:
As usual, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. And if you’re going to Comic-Con this week, Summit is holding a panel Friday in Hall H at 2:15 – 3:15pm for Drive Angry. Here are the details:
DRIVE ANGRY 3D – In a Comic-Con exclusive, stars of the film including Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner, Amber Heard as well as director Patrick Lussier will debut footage from the high-octane, blood-spattered road trip through hell. In this newest action horror shot in 3D, a vengeful father hunts down the people who brutally killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby.
Question: We heard you jumped right into this project when you got pitched the script and everything.
Nicolas Cage: Yeah, well I read the script and they said that…when I read it my eye was going to be shot out and I remember on a movie called “Season of the Witch” I wanted them to shoot my eye out with an arrow. And the producers didn’t go for that, so when it was handed to me in this movie that they were going to shoot my eye out with a gun I thought, “yeah I’m going to make that movie.”
Can you talk a little bit about…it’s a hard R movie. There’s a lot of violence. Is that something that attracted you to the role or was it something…did it make you a little nervous?
Cage: Well I do tend to apply myself to projects that make me uncomfortable because usually when that happens I try to find a way of existing in the project that is more creative. So that I can do something with the material that compels me to go in a new direction. I had been making a lot of family oriented movies, which I also like. But I still have a passion for the midnight audience and for midnight movies and I felt that this was as good a chance to make a midnight movie as any, so that’s why I jumped in.
What’s the most uncomfortable thing about this character?
Cage: Well, there’s the level of killing. You know, he’s not really a…it’s more like a force from another dimension. It’s almost like karma on some level. It’s not really a…it’s almost more than human like a ghost on a vengent tear. Like karma. I see him as a protector of children when something horrific is about to happen to children, he is awakened from the abyss and I like characters that have supernatural aspects to them because I feel like you can do more with them. There’s an infinite number of possibilities when you’re dealing with the infinite.
There’s a lot of references to 70’s car movies, chase movies. Is there a character based reference for you that you go back to at all?
Cage: Well I tried to instill as much of those memories that I had from the 70’s films with Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. And there were a couple of moves that Charles Bronson had like in Death Wish that I was trying to bring back for this. And then you have the element of the automobile as well. There’s so many different sides to this one because it is a car movie but it also has the action of an old Charles Bronson movie and then you add the supernatural component to it and on top of that you have 3D, so it’s not like anything else that I’ve done before or really seen before. I’m very excited about what can emerge from this. I’m trying to mess with the format – meaning like what can I do with 3D as a film actor. How can I move differently or I was talking about sticking my tongue out and seeing it would go into the 4th row of the audience and if there’s anything I can do to play with the format.
Do you watch the dailies?
Cage: No. I don’t. I look at playback on-set and I put the 3D glasses on and if I feel like we have it then we move on. Once it’s gone to dailies after work, I don’t think there’s really anything you can do about it. You know? It’s too late. So with the invention of video playback you can get a lot done very quickly and you can make any adjustments that need to be made while you’re filming it.
When you have a character who’s motivated by revenge, are you like non-stop angry or do you have a moment to catch your breath and think things out?
Cage: Yeah, you know Milton to me…I’ll talk very little about it because I want you to have your own relationship with it, so it’s like if you see him as being angry so be it. But I think it’s almost like he doesn’t really fit into the physics of normal human emotion. I would think a little more like High Plains Drifter that way where you’re not exactly sure where he’s at. It’s not just straight-up anger so much. He’s coming from another dimension that’s not of this earth.
Well, Billy was saying that pretty much everyone in this movie is kind of a bad guy. You know, Billy’s just the worst bad guy. Is that how you see it as well?
Cage: Well, he’s…yeah, I mean he’s certainly the worst bad guy in terms of people. But what William Fichtner’s going on is also deliciously bad but it’s a different kind of bad. It’s more like from when I’m watching him it’s like an imp that’s been released or a leprechaun or something. He’ll describe it in his own way but…and then Milton, to me, is certainly villainous but, again, he doesn’t fit into normal human behavior or emotion. It’s more like a ghost, you know?
But he does build relationships like with Amber’s character.
You guys have a relationship.
Cage: Yeah. But even that relationship is a little bit mysterious. She’s chosen for a certain very specific reason that I don’t know if I want to give away, but he chose her and the relationship isn’t a romantic one at all. It’s more of like a partnership.
There’s a lot of classic cars in this and we’ve heard that you do a lot of your own driving. Was that something that you almost wanted to put in your contract like I want to do this kind of driving or…
Cage: No, well I worked with Johnny Martin before on Gone in 60 Seconds so he knew what I was capable of doing and he was very comfortable with me driving in the cars and so it was just a natural flow that happened and it didn’t take a lot of thought or a lot of rehearsing.
You mentioned briefly about the 3D element of the movie. Now as an actor, you said it makes you think a little bit differently. But do you find it at all invasive or intrusive to the normal acting process?
Cage: No. On the contrary I find it inspiring and I always think when I’m working on something new, whether it’s a new kind of character or a new kind of story or new kind of camera anything new, in this case certainly the 3D is one of the new elements, but it is exciting for me because again, it gets my creative wheels spinning. Like what can I do with that? How can I play with that format? And certainly the first thing I did when I arrived on the set on the first day was just I really wanted to look at the camera and see was there something different about it. Was there something…how was I going to make friends with this camera? What information was it going to receive from me and how would I move differently? And I found very quickly that it’s just not much different that a normal 35mm camera or whatever the millimeter is on this, but it just…some moves can make an impact. Some moves can make a difference and if you think about it and I’ll discuss it with Patrick how can I get into the audience with my body language. We’ll go over it, rehearse it and then shoot it. And then sometimes there’s happy accidents. Like we did this one shot where I was cocking the shotgun and the shell just happened to fly out into the lens of the camera in such a way that it was magical for the 3D format. But of course that wasn’t rehearsed at all. So it’s always exciting when you can go into a mode where you can be both spontaneous and choreographed. Sort of in control and out of control at the same time.
Do you have to exaggerate some motions?
Cage: Well that’s what I was thinking when I was trying to stick my tongue out into the audience. I was really trying to exaggerate it, but I don’t know if they’re going to go with that or not. Might be a little too much too soon.
Cage: All right, guys. Well, nice to meet you all.
Drive Angry gets released February 11, 2011.
For more Drive Angry 3D coverage: