Leaving Las Vegas Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Credit: MGM, United Artists

Nicolas Cage says it’s “probably true” that he never got paid for his Oscar-winning performance in 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas. But almost thirty years later, he’s unbothered.

Director Mike Figgis told The Hollywood Reporter‘s It Happened in Hollywood podcast in 2022 that neither he nor Cage ever saw the $100,000 they were each promised for the film by the now-defunct Lumière Pictures and Television, which he said financed the movie. Figgis said the reason Lumière gave him for not getting paid was that the $4 million film never went into profit, despite earning $32 million at the domestic box office alone, according to Box Office Mojo.

Now, Cage is weighing in on the situation, telling Business Insider at SXSW, where he’s promoting his new film Arcadian, that it’s “probably true” that he never got paid for Leaving Las Vegas.

Nicolas Cage on the Missing Leaving Las Vegas Paycheck

“But I haven’t been thinking about it,” Cage said. “I got to play a part that I absolutely had to play. There was no doubt in my mind that it would be an experience and a great movie. I wasn’t going to stop — whether they paid me or not, I was making the movie.”

Lumière Pictures and Television no longer exists as it did in 1995, having been acquired in 1996 by French company UGC, which was then acquired by Canal+ later that year. Representatives for Canal+ Group did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment on Thursday. Leaving Las Vegas was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists and is currently available to stream on Max and Hulu.

Cage’s performance as alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Figgis was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Figgis said he and Cage both began earning a lot more money for the projects that followed. As such, Figgis told THR that he’s not upset about the money, either.

Also Read: Nicolas Cage: The Man, The Myth, The Meme (Cover Story)

“Whatever,” he said in 2022. “I mean, my career then took off again, and the next film I did, I got really well paid. And within a year [Nick] was earning $20 million a film, so that was quite good.”

After their Oscars moment, Figgis even began getting calls from such film industry icons as Eyes Wide Shut director Stanley Kubrick and E.T. director Steven Spielberg, he added. He went on to direct films like One Night Stand (1997) starring Wesley Snipes and Robert Downey Jr.; Time Code (2000) starring Jeanne Triplehorn, Stellan Skarsgård and Salma Hayek; Cold Creek Manor (2003) starring Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis, and Mara (2015) starring Juliette Binoche and Scott Glenn.

In the few years following Leaving Las Vegas, Cage went on to star in huge blockbusters like 1996’s The Rock opposite Sean Connery and Ed Harris, and 1997’s Face/Off opposite John Travolta and Con Air opposite John Malkovich and John Cusack.

After a period of financial and box-office struggles in the mid-2000s, Cage has been enjoying some time back in the limelight for the past several years with starring roles in critically-acclaimed films like 2018’s Panos Cosmatos horror pic Mandy, 2021’s Michael Sarnoski drama Pig, and 2022’s Tom Gormican action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opposite Pedro Pascal. Since 2023, Cage has also appeared in Renfield, Sympathy for the Devil, Dream Scenario, The Retirement Plan, and he even made a cameo as Superman in The Flash.

But Cage recently told Deadline that he’s not really thinking much about doing more comic book films at the moment.

“Would I return to the comic book genre? I guess never say never,” Cage said.

“Much has been made about that. My comic book collection just goes viral quickly, exponentially, and I feel like in some ways it’s eclipsed what I’m really reading,” he added, “like [Nikolai Golgol’s] “The Overcoat” or Herman Hesse. It’s like I’m still stuck at 12 years old with the NyQuil and the lemon cookies and The Incredible Hulk No. 72. Come on, I’ve grown up. That’s not who I am anymore. Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate it. I do. And I’ll probably still be open to playing something, but it’s not really on my mind.”

Main Image: Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Credit: MGM and United Artists.