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Nicolas Cage Revs His Engines

Few actors in Hollywood are as versatile as Nicolas Cage. He plays comedy, drama, and avant garde with equal skill. In his latest movie, Gone in 60 Seconds, he plays a retired car thief who is lured back into the business when his kid brother gets into trouble. The challenge: To steal 50 cars in one night.

Early Show Contributor Laurie Hibberd asked him if, 10 years ago, he ever would have expected to be one of the most bankable action film stars in Hollywood.

"It wasn't the way my career originally started," Cage replied with a laugh. "I was doing some more avant garde sort of films, like Raising Arizona and Vampire's Kiss and Wild at Heart. And nobody at that time could visualize me in (the action) genre as much as I had wanted to do it., because I was a big fan of action movies when I was a kid. So, for me, it's always been this sort of dream, in a way."

What has changed in 10 years? Is he a better actor?

"If anything, I think I'm more seasoned now," he says. "Then, I was like raw energy. I was emotional. I was electric, but I was all over the place. I couldn't focus, and now I feel like I can focus."

The list of Nicolas Cage films is as diverse as any bio in Hollywood. He established himself early on as a serious actor in films like Birdy and Moonstruck . He won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a self-destructive drunk in 1995's Leaving Las Vegas.

But Cage is also well known for action blockbusters like Face/Off and The Rock.

In Gone in 60 Seconds, he plays a man who is supposed to be the best car thief in the world.

"I've never stolen a car. In fact, I've had a couple of cars stolen," says the actor.

But he did do many of his own stunts in the movie, including most of the driving.

For a famous actor, Cage does a good job of avoiding the spotlight in his private life.

"I've been sort of lucky in that way," he says. "I do sort of fly below the radar somehow, and I'm happy about it, because it's allowed me to stay somewhat within the confines of reality. "


  • Born Nicolas Coppola on January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, Calif.
  • The son of literature professor August Coppola and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang, he changed his name early on in his career to make a name for himself, separate from his famous uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola.
  • At 15, he studied acting at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater and while still in school landed a part in the TV series The Best of Times as a surfer due.
  • In 1982, he made his film debut in with a small role in Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
  • He worked in his uncle's film Rumble Fish and had a lead role in Valley Girl in 1983.
  • In 1986 he starred opposite Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married and captured the attention of the Coen brothers who cast him in their comedy Raising Arizona.
  • 1987 was also the year that Cage landed a role as Cher's love interest in Moonstruck, earning a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
  • For the 1989 film Birdy, he had a tooth extracted without Novocain in preparation for his role as a wounded soldier.
  • Among the movies he made in the '90s were Wild at Heart, Vampire's Kiss and Honeymoon in Vegas earning in the latter a Golden Globe nomination.
  • But it was Mike Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas that established him as respected dramatic actor. His portrayal of a suicidal alcoholic earned him a Best Actor Oscar.
  • From there, Cage chose to star in action films such as The Rock, Con Air and Face Off, all of which achieved blockbuster success.
  • In 1998, Cage went back to star as the romantic protagonist in City of Angels, but kept things moving in the action realm in the suspense movie Snake Eyes.
  • In 1999, he starred in 8MM and Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out The Dead, which co-starred his real-life wife, Patricia Arquette.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds reunites Cage with producer Jerry Bruckheimer for the third time. They previously teamed for Con-Air and The Rock
  • Cage collects vintage cars as a hobby. His favorite is a 1955 D Type Jaguar (British racing green). He has had a few cars stolen, and one has been impounded by the police because of unpaid parking tickets.

  • Golden Globe Nominee, Best Actor, Moonstruck
  • Golden Globe Nominee, Best Actor, Honeymoon in Vegas
  • Academy Award Winner, Best Actor, Leaving Las Vegas

  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)
  • Windtalkers (2001)
  • Family Man (2000)
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
  • Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
  • 8MM (1999)
  • Snake Eyes (1998)
  • City of Angels (1998)
  • Welcome to Hollywood (1998)
  • Face/Off (1997)
  • Con Air (1997)
  • The Rock (1996)
  • Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Kiss of Death (1995)
  • Trapped in Paradise (1994)
  • A Century of Cinema (1994)
  • Guarding Tess (1994)
  • It Could Happen to You (1994)
  • Amos & Andrew (1993)
  • Deadfall (1993)
  • Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
  • Red Rock West (1992)
  • Zandalee (1991)
  • Wild at Heart (1990)
  • Fire Birds (1990)
  • Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (1990) (TV)
  • Jonathan Ross Presents for One Week Only: David Lynch (1990) (TV)
  • Tempo di uccidere (1990)
  • Vampire's Kiss (1989)
  • Never on Tuesday (1988)
  • Moonstruck (1987)
  • Raising Arizona (1987)
  • The Boy in Blue (1986)
  • Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
  • Racing with the Moon (1984)
  • Birdy (1984)
  • The Cotton Club (1984)
  • Rumble Fish (1983)
  • Valley Girl (1983)
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
  • Best of Times (1981) (TV)
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