Where to even begin when speaking about Nicolas Cage? He is a national treasure on and off the film screen. The memes and gifs are endless of crazed, excited, or angry Nic Cage faces for any occasion. He has given us amazing films across so many genres like Mandy, Con Air, Valley Girl, and Face/Off. However, there is one movie that is underrated and overlooked that became the blueprint for a Cage performance. That movie is the 1988 Robert Bierman film, Vampire’s Kiss.
Vampire’s Kiss is about a white collar man in New York named Peter Loew who finds himself in a unique situation after a one-night stand. Peter wakes up the next day certain that he is a vampire and nothing can convince him otherwise. Despite others not agreeing with him and there being no physical changes, Peter definitively decides that he is a vampire and even begins wearing plastic fangs and stalking women to live up to his view of himself. Cage’s performance of a man descending into psychotic madness is some of his best work and the truest form of Cage that you can find.
Back when this film was in production, Nicolas Cage was still finding his footing in the industry. He almost didn’t take the role due to there being a director swap in the very beginning as was said on the Vampire’s Kiss DVD Commentary. Eventually, the newly appointed director, Bierman, was able to get him back, and the rest is movie history. Nicolas Cage is known as a method actor who really gets intense and passionate with any role he takes. He has said “I don’t act, I feel” in an interview with Variety and fans can definitely see that.
Cockroaches And Bats
During the filming of Vampire’s Kiss, Cage took some very questionable and eccentric tactics to sell the downward spiral that Peter was experiencing. In one scene, Cage’s character was initially supposed to suck on a raw egg in a moment of psychosis. Being who he is, Nic wanted to turn that up a notch to really sell what madness Peter Loew was slipping into. Instead, Cage requested that he eat a live cockroach, which is the thing he hates the most in the world. According to a detailed history on the film on The Ringer, he had to eat a cockroach twice, actually, and chased it with 100 proof vodka. In another scene, a mechanical bat is used and Cage was defiantly angry about the filming not being done with a live bat, despite the inability to control it and the possibility of rabies. Cage wanted everything to be authentic and as shocking as possible. Another strange request of his was when he was preparing for a love scene with Rachel (Jennifer Beals). In order to get turned on, he asked for hot yogurt to be poured over his toes while filming. If you watch it, you’ll never see his feet in the scene.
The most memorable scene from film is when he jumps up on a desk and emphatically recites the whole alphabet. There are people with such a soothing voice that others would say that they would listen to them read an ingredients label. Nicolas Cage would make reading an ingredient label the most exciting and whirlwind moment to be a part of. This over the top acting style became quintessential Nicolas Cage. We also see this when he quite literally screeches “boo-hoo” every time he cries to send it over the top. Cage takes a lot of inspiration from German Expressionism in film, crediting his experimental style to Nosferatu and Cabinet of Dr Caligari. The German Expressionism in acting comes from an over exaggeration of body language and facial expressions because this style was predominantly adopted during the silent film era. The iconic and bizarre bug-eyed Cage is entirely intentional and became Character Zero for the rest of his career.
Flop To Favorite
This film was originally a flop, but sometime in the late 90s it became a cult classic film. On more than one occasion, Cage has mentioned that this is his favorite performance of his to date. Despite many critics calling his intentional expressionism to be over-acting, fans and audiences can’t get enough of Cage being in his ultimate Cage form. Currently branching out to directing and producing as well as acting, Nicolas Cage makes anyone who thinks they’re passionate look indifferent in character. Whether you feel he is too over the top or just right, there can be no knock on Cage’s willingness to do whatever he needs to in order to get into character. He’s never misfiled anything, not once, not one time!