Five of Nicolas Cage's Wackiest Roles

Close up of Nicolas Cage as Dracula in movie Renfield
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In this month's Renfield, Nicolas Cage tackles one of his zaniest roles to date – that of the original bloodsucker himself, Dracula. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the actor's filmography knows that Cage commits to his characters. Over the course of his career he's dedicated himself to delivering a range of performances. 

He's subtle and understated in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out The Dead, delivers over-the-top action heroics in Con Air, embodies the kind buffoon in Raising Arizona, and becomes grizzled and brooding in the more recent Pig. But we're not here to discuss every one of his movies, we're here to dive into the actor's more eccentric turns. His career is packed with dozens of unorthodox performances, but we've highlighted the top five for you to revisit ahead of Renfield's release in theaters.


Wild at Heart (1990)

At the outset of Wild at Heart, Sailor Ripley is released from prison for killing a man in self-defense. He's quickly reunited with his partner, Lulu (Laura Dern), who restores his sense of self with his signature snakeskin jacket. Cage transforms into a too-cool-for-school figure whose impulsivity immediately gets the better of him; within moments he's smashed someone's head to bits. 

The story goes that as soon as director David Lynch read Barry Gifford's original novel, there was only one actor in mind for the role of Ripley. It's easy to see why. Cage runs amok with the material, letting a brooding rage simmer away under every scene which works perfectly to offset the black comedy of this madcap road trip thriller.


Deadfall (1993)

Granted, this thriller directed by Cage's brother Christopher Coppola isn't exactly what you'd call a great movie. A critical and financial disaster at time of release, Deadfall has since gone on to become a cult favorite on account of Cage's excessive, over-the-top performance. And make no mistake: he steals the show. While he's only in a supporting role, once he staggers into the film around the 20-minute mark, it's clear that everyone else is merely orbiting his gonzo genius. 

The movie garnered considerable notoriety for Cage's performance of a drug-induced meltdown, which has since gone on to inform many a meme as he's off-the-charts. Spouting nonsense in a drug-addled haze, when he's not snorting substances and bouncing around on beds, he pretends to karate chop people while dropping his best line deliveries yet.


Vampire's Kiss (1988)

One of his earliest performances that garnered attention for Cage, came immediately after appearing in the charming Moonstruck. This pivot from mainstream fare into the esoteric madness of Robert Bierman's Vampire's Kiss set the precedent for Cage's career trajectory. Eager to avoid being typecast, Cage plays Peter Loew, a disturbed New York literary agent whose vacuous existence is plugged up with an eccentric development after he believes he's been bitten by a vampire. 

Thinking that he himself is also a vampire, Loew ventures down a bizarre path which is perfect for Cage's style of heightened acting. He adopts a strange accent, condescends to everyone, and even eats a live cockroach. The latter was part of Cage's method: the scene took two takes so he actually consumed a couple of the insects.


Face/Off (1997)

Who better to play a murderous, unhinged terrorist with a penchant for theatrics? Cage brings an unbridled swagger to the role of Caster Troy, a criminal who swaps faces with John Travolta's FBI Special Agent Sean Archer. As Archer "borrows" Troy's face in order to track down the location of a bomb, we're given one of the battiest premises in '90s cinema. The action comes thick and fast and it's the perfect setting for Cage to chew the scenery. 

Cage's wide-eyed, manic performance as Troy garners most attention – and quite rightly so, it's bananas – but what's just as remarkable is his switch to playing Archer. The FBI Special Agent wears the face of a man he loathes, yet is forced to endure this corporeal prison to save lives. 


Mandy (2018)

The image of a gurning Cage covered in blood is one of the standouts from Panos Cosmatos' hallucinatory revenge yarn. Set during the height of the Satanic Panic era of the 1980s, the movie charts Cage's descent into madness as Red, a logger-turned-vigilante who seeks vengeance on the religious cult and biker gang that murdered his girlfriend Mandy. 

At the outset, Red is painfully sweet and earnest. But as he pursues those responsible, his journey finds him dosed to the gills with LSD, transforming into a howling, screaming emblem of pain and rage. This is Cage firmly in his preferred wheelhouse. Excessive and deranged, without hesitation he commits to the fractured psychosis of Red whose experience with the demonic biker cult knows no bounds. 

See Nicolas Cage’s next eccentric performance in Renfield at Regal.

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