Nicolas Cage is a truly divisive Hollywood superstar: like Marmite, you either love him or loathe him. He’s made some undeniably great films over the years, from Leaving Las Vegas to The Rock – but he’s certainly made some questionable choices too, as he did with his 2006 remake of The Wicker Man.
Thought that film was bizarre? Cage’s personal life, incredibly, is even stranger. Here are the wackiest facts about this eccentric actor.
20. He was forced to publicly deny rumours that he’s a vampire
In 2012, a Seattle-based man sparked rumours that Cage was a vampire after uploading one spooky eBay listing.
The seller had listed a photo from 1870 of a Tennessee man bearing a striking resemblance to Cage. The asking price was a hefty $1 million.
“Personally, I believe it’s him and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire, et cetera, who quickens/reinvents himself once every 75 years or so,” the seller said.
“150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk show host.”
Cage went on to publicly deny that he was a vampire, putting the rumours to bed on the David Letterman Show.
“Now look, I don’t drink blood and the last time I looked in the mirror I had a reflection,” he told the talk show host.
19. He nearly got arrested after pretending to be the pilot during a flight
We all love a good prank – but it seems Cage took things a little too far with one trick he pulled.
Recalling the incident on the David Letterman Show, Cage recounted how he once got ahold of the PA system on a flight.
The actor then announced over the speakers that he was the pilot and “wasn’t feeling very well” and was even “losing control of the aircraft.”
Unsurprisingly, this was pretty distressing for all on board – not least for Charlie Sheen, who also happened to be on the plane (and carrying illegal substances with him).
Cage himself admitted to Letterman that hearing your pilot is incapacitated while in the air is a sentence “you never want to hear.”
When the flight landed, the pilot came out and yelled at Cage. Cage managed to talk his way out of trouble and only narrowly avoided punishment.
18. He had his own teeth pulled out to connect with his character in 1984’s Birdy
Cage plays a Vietnam veteran, Alfonso ‘Al’ Columbato, in the 1984 film Birdy. As was usual for Cage in this period, the actor went to extremes to get into character.
In order to portray his character’s anguish as authentically as possible, Cage elected to have two of his teeth pulled out.
They were baby teeth and needed to come out anyway, but Cage insisted that he undergo the procedure without anaesthetic so as to experience maximum pain.
Cage also lost 15 pounds and had his face wrapped in bandages for five weeks while shooting for the film.
The bandages altered his appearance and temporarily resulted in acne and ingrown hairs on his face.
Speaking to The Telegraph in 2013, Cage revealed that “the reactions on the street were brutal” as he experienced “men and women laughing [and] kids staring” at his changed face.
17. He says his $150,000 pet octopus made him a better actor
Cage has often landed himself in serious financial trouble due to his profligate spending habits.
As well as a ridiculous number of cars and motorcycles, the actor has bought castles, dinosaur bones, and even an entire island – but one of his weirdest purchases just has to be his $150,000 octopus.
Challenged on his spending habits by the New York Times in 2019, Cage quipped: “You’re not going to go into dire straits buying an octopus.”
Cage says his aquatic pet helped him become a better actor – although we’re not sure exactly how.
Speaking to the LA Times, Cage also said that he found it “restful” to watch the baby octopus swimming around its tank.
Cage hasn’t spoken about his eight-tentacled friend in a while, so it’s unclear if the National Treasure star still owns the octopus or not.
16. He bought serial killer Delphine LaLaurie’s house in 2007
Cage is so eccentric that it almost comes as no surprise to learn that he bought a notorious serial killer’s house in 2007.
Delphine LaLaurie was a New Orleans-based socialite who gained notoriety in the early 19th century for her cruel treatment and murder of slaves.
LaLaurie fled Louisiana after local authorities realised that she was killing her slaves. She spent the rest of her life in self-imposed exile in Paris.
The original LaLaurie house was mobbed, ransacked, and even burned down before it was rebuilt in 1838.
The new building is what Cage purchased in 2007 for $3.45 million. Cage told the New York Daily News that he liked the idea of buying a house with “mystery” attached to it.
As Cage struggled with increasing financial difficulties in the following years, the house was relisted and sold at auction in 2009 for $3.5 million.
15. He’s arranged to be buried in a pyramid when he dies
It’s Cage’s wish to be buried in a pyramid when he passes away – and he even has a tomb lined up already in one of New Orleans’ most famous cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
In 2010, Cage purchased two plots in a nine-feet-tall pyramid-shaped tomb inscribed with the Latin phrase “omnia ab uno,” which translates to “everything from one.”
The cemetery is also the final resting place of Marie Laveau, a Creole voodoo priestess who lived and died in New Orleans.
Some believe the pyramid structure is linked to Cage’s supposed involvement in the Illuminati, but this seems a little far-fetched.
Equally bizarrely, others claim that Cage is immortal and will regenerate his body inside the tomb after death.
In February 2020, Cage was seen visiting the tomb with a mystery woman. He’s never publicly commented on why he bought the plots.
14. He once outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a dinosaur skull
In 2007, Cage bought a Tarbosaurus bataar skull for $276,000 (£185,000) from a Beverley Hills gallery, outbidding Leonardo DiCaprio in the process.
However, Cage was contacted in 2014 by the Department of Homeland Security who informed him that the skull may have entered the US illegally.
Investigators determined that the skull had been stolen from Mongolia and Cage ultimately agreed to return the skull in 2015.
Speaking to the New York Times about the incident, Cage revealed that he never got a penny back from the dodgy sale.
“Of course it should be awarded to its country of origin,” he said. “But who knew? Plus, I never got my money back. So that stank.”
Although Leo may have been gutted to have missed out on purchasing the skull in 2007, we bet he was very relieved after hearing what happened to it in 2015.
13. He used to ‘collect’ castles in search of the Holy Grail
Actors are liable to invest in strange things – consider, for example, Johnny Depp and his Barbie dolls – but Cage truly takes the cake for splashing the cash on outrageous purchases.
He has spent a total of $12.3 million on two European castles, which he genuinely purchased out of a desire to find the Holy Grail.
“I started following mythology, and I was finding properties that aligned with that,” Cage told the New York Times in 2019. “For me it was all about where was the grail? Was it here? Was it there?”
Unfortunately, Cage fell into financial problems as a result of his erratic spending habits. After buying the castles in 2006 and 2007, Cage was forced to sell them both in 2009.
Cage doesn’t regret purchasing the castles despite his quick descent into financial ruin. “You have good investments and bad investments,” he explained.
“The good investments came from personal interest and my honest enjoyment of the history.” He still has not found the Holy Grail.
12. He’s playing Joe Exotic, the Tiger King, in his first TV show
Netflix’s Tiger King documentary series hooked audiences back in March, with Joe Exotic, the Tiger King himself, both horrifying and captivating viewers in equal measure.
CBS announced in May 2020 that they would be producing their own miniseries based on the life of Exotic.
According to Variety, it seems as though Cage is set to play the leading man. The series will be Cage’s first TV project.
The eight-episode series will be based on the Texas Monthly article Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild, by Leif Reigstad.
In September 2020 it was confirmed that the series would launch on Amazon Prime Video, although no release date has been confirmed.
The series will look into Exotic’s tortured psyche and explore his relationship with fellow big cat enthusiast and business rival, Carole Baskin.
11. He got Johnny Depp his first acting job
In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Cage revealed that he helped land fellow actor Johnny Depp his first big break.
The two became friends when they met in Hollywood as young wannabes. “I was living in an old building in Hollywood called the Fontenoy, and I think I ultimately rented the apartment to Johnny, and he started living there,” Cage explained.
“[Depp] was at the point in his career where he was selling pens or something to get by,” Cage confessed.
According to the Oscar-winning actor, Depp had his heart set on being a musician. But Cage convinced him to meet with his own agent to discuss a career in acting.
Cage’s agent then sent out a reluctant Depp to audition for Nightmare on Elm Street – and he got snapped up by producers on the spot.
“Overnight sensations don’t happen,” Cage said to the New York Times. “But it happened with him.”
10. He was almost cast as Willy Wonka
Johnny Depp was ultimately cast as Willy Wonka in the 2005 film adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, but things could have been very different.
Cage was one in a long list of actors who were considered for the leading role. Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Adam Sandler and many others were in the running to play the eccentric chocolate factory owner.
Director Tim Burton was reportedly very keen for Cage to get the part – but the actor unfortunately lost interest in doing the film.
Depp and Cage have been friends for years now, so it’s doubtful that there’s any animosity between them over the issue.
It’s hard to tell who would have made a better Wonka. Depp certainly brought a lot of his natural exuberance and energy to the role, but Cage undoubtedly would have been a good fit given his own innate eccentricity.
One thing’s for sure: nobody will ever be able to match Gene Wilder’s iconic performance in the original 1971 film.
9. He was briefly married to Elvis’ daughter
Lisa Marie Presley famously married Michael Jackson in 1994 – but fewer people know of her marriage to Nicolas Cage.
Presley divorced Jackson in 1996 and shortly thereafter got engaged to musician John Oszajca, in 2000.
However, the engagement was called off when Presley met Cage at a party and the two fell for each other.
Speaking on Larry King Live in 2003, Presley recalled what it was like to meet Cage: “Similar situations, similar backgrounds. So we connected, we had a great connection.”
Unfortunately, the marriage was extremely short-lived. After just 107 days of marriage, the pair filed for divorce in November 2002.
In May 2004 the divorce between Presley and Cage was finalised. Thankfully, the pair split amicably and are still friends.
8. His shortest marriage was four days long
Cage had been dating makeup artist Erika Koike for around a year when they tied the knot in Las Vegas in March 2019.
Unfortunately, their honeymoon period was all too brief. After just four days of married life, Cage filed for divorce from Koike.
“I don’t really want to talk about it. I was pretty upset about that and the way things happened,” he told The New York Times Magazine.
When seeking the annulment, Cage cited the fact that both parties were drunk during the wedding.
Cage claimed that he and Koike drank “to the point of intoxication” before the ceremony.
He also argued that he wasn’t aware of Koike’s “relationship with another person.” A divorce was granted to the couple in May 2019.
7. Kathleen Turner once falsely accused him of stealing a Chihuahua
In her 2008 autobiography, actress Kathleen Turner wrote about the time she spent filming Peggy Sue Got Married with Cage.
Turner didn’t mince her words. Recalling their time working together, she said: “Nicolas didn’t manage to kill the film, but he didn’t add a lot to it, either.”
In amongst the general pettiness was quite the allegation: that Cage had stolen a Chihuahua and been arrested for drink driving during filming.
Turner claimed that Cage was “arrested twice for drunk-driving and, I think, for stealing a dog. He’d come across a Chihuahua he liked and stuck it in his jacket.”
Cage sued Turner for libel and won. The actress was forced to apologise and pay his legal fees.
She was also made to make a substantial charitable donation to the National Adult Protective Services Foundation, a US charity which benefits vulnerable adults.
6. He only eats “dignified” animals
Some people don’t eat certain foods for religious or medical reasons, while others abstain from meat and animal products out of care for the environment.
Cage’s reasoning is a little more random: according to The Guardian, the actor only eats animals that are “dignified” when they mate.
The actor claims that fish and fowl are fair game – but “pigs” are apparently off-limits for him.
“I think fish are very dignified […] so are birds. But pigs, not so much. I don’t eat pig meat or things like that. I eat fish and fowl,” he explained in 2010.
Though this reasoning may seem pretty arbitrary to most people, Cage seems pretty pleased with his dietary choices.
As long as he’s happy and healthy, let’s just leave him to it – even if this logic only makes sense to him.
5. He was once stalked by a mime
In 2009, Cage claimed that he’d been routinely stalked by a mime who would follow him everywhere.
“This mime would appear on the set of Bringing Out the Dead and start doing strange things,” he told Parade.
“I have no idea how it got past security. Finally, the producers took some action and I haven’t seen the mime since,” he said.
Cage described the mime as “silent – but maybe deadly” and found the whole ordeal “deeply unsettling.”
The mime wasn’t Cage’s only stalker. At the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, he told a disturbing story about how he once woke up late at night only to see “a naked man […] eating a Fudgesicle” at the end of his bed.
Cage said that he immediately called the police and calmly talked to the intruder while waiting for help to arrive.
4. He actually ate a live cockroach for that scene in Vampire’s Kiss
Everyone remembers the disgusting scene where Cage eats a live cockroach in the 1988 movie Vampire’s Kiss.
Part of the reason why the scene is so memorable stems from the fact that Cage is genuinely eating a live cockroach in the film.
The script called for Cage’s character, Peter Loew, to suck a raw egg, but Cage was willing to up the ante and eat a cockroach.
Director Richard Bierman remembers Cage’s willingness to push the boundaries. “He wanted to eat the most frightening thing for him,” he recalled. “I thought, ‘This is terrific!'”
“I sent my prop people down into the boiler room. […] They brought me a box, divided up into little sections with tissue paper. The cockroaches were there lined up for me to cast,” he said.
Cage claimed he wanted “to do something that would shock the audience, something you would never forget.” Well, he certainly succeeded.
3. He changed his name to distance himself from the Coppola family
Nicolas ‘Cage’ is actually Nicolas Coppola, a nephew of legendary Godfather director Francis Ford, and cousin of Sofia.
After being mocked for his family connections on the set of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Nicolas adopted the surname of Marvel superhero Luke Cage.
In 2011 at a press conference for the film Trespass, Cage revealed a little more about his rationale behind the name change.
“Nicolas Cage is who I really am, even though my passport says otherwise,” he said.
“I kinda had to re-invent myself to be able to have the guts to sit here in front of you today.”
“Nicolas Coppola was a very scared little boy, and I had to sort of re-invent who I was going to be to make my dreams come true,” Cage added.
2. He has a tattoo of lizard in a top hat on his back
In 1994, Cage told reporters for the Philadelphia Inquirer that he invented his own ‘initiation’ into adulthood, modelled on rituals from many different world cultures.
This ‘initiation’ involved getting a tattoo of a lizard in a top hat on his upper back, which Cage says that he did in order to “claim [his] own body.”
“Other cultures have initiations into manhood and that’s what the tattoo was for me,” he told the Inquirer.
Cage also has a Woody Woodpecker tattoo on his right bicep, as well as a flaming Ghost Rider skull on his left arm.
Cage famously played Johnny Blaze in the 2007 Ghost Rider film and its 2011 sequel.
In both instances, Cage had to cover up his flaming skull tattoo with heavy makeup, as it would have hardly made sense for the Ghost Rider to have a tattoo of himself.
1. Forbes has ranked him as one of the most generous celebrities in the world
Cage has a bit of a reputation for squandering away all of his money – but not all of it is wasted on pointless materialistic purchases.
In 2006, Forbes ranked Cage as one of the most generous stars in the world, placing him alongside the likes of Bono and Paul McCartney.
According to the article, Cage donated $1 million to the New Orleans relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The actor has also donated substantial amounts to Los Angeles-based charity Chrysalis, which supports local homeless people.
Cage has also put $2 million towards a child soldier rehabilitation programme run by Amnesty International.
Cage may spend inordinate amounts on octopi and dinosaur heads, but at least he’s never forgotten about those who are less fortunate than him.