Home Action Drive Angry – Nicolas Cage on his first live-action 3D movie

Drive Angry – Nicolas Cage on his first live-action 3D movie

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Drive Angry - Nicolas Cage
Milton (Nicolas Cage) © 2010 Summit Entertainment

At his outrageous best, Nicolas Cage stars in the new high-octane, action-thriller Drive Angry. He plays John Milton, a hardened felon who has literally broken out of hell intent of finding the vicious religious cult who brutally murdered his daughter and kidnapped her baby. Along the way, he joins forces with Piper (Amber Heard), a sexy, tough-as-nails, kick-ass waitress with a ’69 Charger.

Cage spoke of his role, and his love of these kinds of off-beat movies, yesterday in Beverly Hills.

This is the first time you’ve shot a film in 3D, what kind of challenges does that present you as an actor?

I was very excited at first to see what I could do with the format, and you’re right it’s my first live action movie in 3D. I was like a kid in a candy store and I wanted to see if I could get my tongue into the fourth row of the audience in one scene. There’s a scene in [the film] where I kiss the young lady, and thankfully they cut that out of the movie, but I wanted to try to do anything I could to mess with the format.

By the second week, it became very clear to me that it wasn’t that different than making any other movie with a 35 millimeter-camera, and that is really a credit to Patrick Lussier, because he is a pioneer of the new wave of 3D. And he really sorted out all the bugs that might occur with it on his first [movie] My Bloody Valentine 3D, and he knew where to put the camera anytime so that the actors didn’t blow out the effect.

So he was very competent, he knew exactly where to put the camera and we really got the movie done quite quickly as a result of his expertise.

When you first saw the script of Drive Angry, what were some of your initial thoughts about it – what attracted you to the character of John Milton?

Drive Angry - David Morse and Nicolas Cage
Webster (David Morse) and Milton (Nicolas Cage) © 2010 Summit Entertainment

I was uncomfortable with the script and I was just going through this phase of my life where I had learned that if something makes you uncomfortable or fearful in any way within reason, that’s exactly what you should confront.

And so it was an experiment on that level that I confronted the violence in the movie, because it’s been a long time since I’d made a violent movie, and it occurred to me that violence is, for better or worse, necessary, that it is part of the human condition.

We all have violent thoughts within us and go through frustration and anger when someone we love is hurt, and so I thought why not make a character that could help us express those feelings vicariously rather than go and do it somewhere in real life.

This film was a great balance of action, humor and horror that centers on your character. Were you conscious of not trying to get too serious?

Yeah, I think you can see that anyone involved in the movie didn’t take it too seriously, that there was a real sense of absurdist fun about it, knowing full well that the movie was going to be over-the-top and extreme.

But having said that, there is a heart in the movie and it’s generated by Amber Heard’s performance and the relationship between her and my character. As you see, it’s not really a romance. It’s something even more affectionate that goes into a familial place where it’s almost like an older brother or a paternal situation, where there’s kindness towards one another.

Even though there are these two whacked out outlaws on the road, they still have feelings for one another and I liked that aspect of it as well. A good movie has to work on more than one level.

What was it like driving these awesome cars?

Drive Angry - Nicolas Cage
Milton (Nicolas Cage) © 2010 Summit Entertainment

I love cars, there’s no secret that the automobile and I have had a pretty good relationship. I wouldn’t say I was an ace, but I’m a good driver, I know what I’m doing in a car. And I thought it was just a real opportunity to drive as fast as I wanted and not get a speeding ticket. And that’s what I did.

The only time that it’s a problem for me is when somebody else is in the car, like Amber Heard, and then I start getting nervous that if something happens to them, that I’m responsible and then I’m not quite as effective.

How fast did you go?

I went about 70 miles per hour at any given moment, because that’s about as fast as I could push it with cameras mounted on the car. But still it was mostly me driving and going into oncoming traffic. Those were some pretty fun days.

Next Sunday is the Academy Awards, what did it mean to you when you won and the day that you didn’t win?

They were both great days and I was with people that I really enjoyed being with. It’s like a party and not to take it too seriously, because it’s not the Olympics. How do you say one actor is better than another actor?

The only way to really do it and have it be sincere would be if you get all the actors together and they’re all playing the same part, and then you rate which one made you feel the most. Otherwise it’s subjective.

What about when you won?

It was a great experience and I felt very thankful for it, but it’s not the sort of thing I think about on a daily basis. It’s in my past, and as you might have guessed I don’t really use it as a criteria to choose my movies. I have pretty acquired taste, and the movies that I enjoy watching personally are movies that really frustrate my wife and you can’t really get on Amazon.

How was it returning to the role of Ghost Rider?

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is really going to be an amazing movie. I don’t normally talk like that about things I’ve worked on, but I just got finished with it and I’m so exciting about what Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine got up to in that movie. It’s really fresh and original.

Mark is like a stuntman, camera operator, director, all rolled into one. He’s literally risking his life to get shots on rollerblades. He’s even patented the rollerblading stuff because no one else in the business is doing it.

Brian Taylor is the reason I played Ghost Rider. He encouraged me to be the Ghost Rider as well as John Blaze and we got up to some stuff as Ghost Rider [in this movie] that the two of us designed together that I think is really going to mess with people’s minds.

It’s not going to be like any other comic book movie you’ve seen. We keep stressing that Ghost Rider is the most supernatural superhero of all, and that’s really going to come out in this movie.