Nicolas Cage debt
Nicolas Cage as Walter in Grand Isle.

Nicolas Cage wants to set the record straight about some of the less-than-awesome movies he did while he was digging himself out of a $6 million financial hole.

Although the actor admits that he had to do some “crummy” movies for the money, he says he still gave every role his all.

“I was over-invested in real estate. The real estate market crashed, and I couldn’t get out in time,” Cage told Sharyn Alfonsi on 60 Minutes. “I paid them all back, but it was about $6 million. I never filed for bankruptcy.”

“It was dark, sure,” he said, adding that “work was always my guardian angel.”

The Nicolas Cage Renaissance

“It may not have been blue chip, but it was still work,” he said of the several straight-to-DVD movies he was doing up until a few years ago, when the Cage-aissance began with brilliant films like Pig and Mandy. The Face-Off and Con Air actor only continues to prosper with 2022’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and this year’s Renfield.

“Even if the movie ultimately is crummy, they know I’m not phoning it in, that I care every time,” Cage added.

Also Read: Pedro Pascal and Nicolas Cage Improvised That Pillow Scene in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

This reporter’s personal favorite film from Cage’s debt-repayment era came at the tale-end, with Stephen S. Campanelli’s 2019 thriller Grand Isle.

The film follows a young father named Buddy (Luke Benward) who desperately needs money for his sick daughter and decides to accept a job building a fence for an absolutely deranged couple named Walter and Fancy (Cage and KaDee Strickland). But when Buddy is charged with murder, he must think back and recount to Detective Jones (Kelsey Grammar) all the wild and horrifying things that happened during a long weekend he spent with Walter and Nancy to weather out a storm.

When I tell you this movie is bad, I mean it. But it’s also so, so good, and I’ve watched it multiple times — all because of Nicolas Cage. Despite many plotholes and a clearly low budget, Cage truly gave the role of Walter, a bitter veteran who is constantly at odds with his wife, everything he had. And he delivers some of the most unintentionally-funny lines I’ve ever heard him say.

Another film of Cage’s that I love — and that is genuinely good — from that period is 2013’s Joe directed by David Gordon Green.

Anyway, the 60 Minutes interview isn’t the first time Cage has spoken about having to do lower-quality movies in order to work his way out of debt.

“There are two truths. The one truth is, yeah, I was going through an incredible financial strain that lasted for 13 years. I made the very clear decision: I’m not going bankrupt. I’m going to work my way through this mess. And, lo and behold, I did, and I’m proud of that,” Cage told MovieMaker in our Spring 2022 cover story.

“But I never took a role that I didn’t think I could bring something to, and I turned down a lot of roles. That’s the story people don’t see. I was working my way out of something.”

Main Image: Nicolas Cage as Walter in Grand Isle.

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