Being part of Hollywood royalty helped Nicolas Cage a lot in his early days. After becoming a star and turning his career upside down (based on his much more humble projects), the actor’s bond with the Coppola family turned out not to be so decisive when it came to obtaining roles, but it remains fundamental in his media image, and gives rise to new thoughts. In recent months, adding to the renaissance that Mandy or Color Out of Space initiated, Cage’s work has been highly praised thanks to his leading role in Pig.
The good reviews and the occasional Oscar-winning rumors have motivated Cage to appear in a special issue of The Hollywood Reporter where he undergoes several interviews in the company of other actors of the moment such as Peter Dinklage, Andrew Garfield or Jonathan Majors. At one point they are asked about a movie they would like to make and no one would let them, and Cage takes the opportunity to recall a disagreement he had with his uncle Francis Ford Coppola in the late 80s. It turns out that Cage was then dying to participate in The Godfather: Part III not only with Francis, but also with his aunt Talia Shire (who played Connie Corleone) and his cousin Sofia Coppola (Mary Corleone).
But Francis refused, even though Cage had already worked with him up to three times by then: Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club and Peggy Sue Got Married, where he had a starring role with Kathleen Turner. “This is a very embarrassing answer to your question, OK, because it involves family,” Cage replied. “So Uncle was doing Godfather III, and I said, ‘I really think I ought to be in your movie, Uncle. I really think it’s a good idea if you would cast me. I think I could play this part.’” Cage was clear about what role he wanted to play, and it was one that was already taken: that of Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son called to succeed Michael.
“He was going to cast Andy Garcia, and I said, ‘But I just see myself more as James Caan’s son, and he’s playing Sonny’s son. He’s not playing Michael’s son. He’s Sonny’s son. I just feel a little more James Caan,’” he says, referring to the actor who played Sonny in the first two installments of The Godfather. “It just wasn’t going to happen. Nope, not going to happen. So that was a movie I didn’t get let in that I really wanted to be in. There.” Andy García ended up playing, indeed, Vincent, and got an Oscar nomination for it, as The Godfather: Part III was released in 1990.
Anecdotes like this cement the prehistory of the cultural phenomenon that Nicolas Cage has ended up nurturing, and that beyond the artistic reevaluation he has experienced in recent years has led to such an eccentric project as The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. A film where Cage plays himself, alongside Pedro Pascal and Tiffany Haddish, set for release next April.