Nicolas Cage has a habit of blowing up the internet, but the bug-eyed actor’s latest bit of virality may also have been one of his best. Last month, Twitter user @alex_navarro posted a brief, previously under-seen cameo Cage made in the forgotten 1989 comedy Never On Tuesday. In it, he dons a pointy prosthetic nose and speaks in a high-pitched squeal before squealing off in his sports car. Per the director, Adam Rifkin, the character was entirely Cage’s idea. “The way it worked with Nicolas Cage is, he was given free rein to do whatever he wanted,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “That was the caveat. He said he’d do it if he could do whatever he wanted. So, he came, with a big rubber nose, that he wanted applied, and he wanted to play this insane character, which we thought was hilarious.”
Cage confirms this in a new Vulture interview, during which he brought up the recently resurfaced clip on his own. “I was delighted to see this completely bizarre cameo I did blowing up on the internet, from Never on Tuesday, with the long nose,” he said. Saying that the filmmakers told him to “‘go for it,’ the three most beautiful words any actor can hear on a set,” he adds, “[A]t that time, I’d come out of wanting to be a Surrealist. I was interested in André Breton and Buñuel. I liked all the otherworldly imagery, and I wanted to find a way to embody that through performance.” A rather lofty way of justifying one’s use of a fake nose and silly voice, that, but okay.
Cage also confirms that there’s more to the scene that we never got to see, something Rifkin teased in his interview. “Now, there’s an uncut version of his scene that needs to be unearthed, from somewhere, where he says way more crazy things,” Rifkin said. “That is not the version that ended up in the final film, sadly. But, now, I wish we could find it, because it’s really, really bizarre.”
While that footage remains lost in the ether, Cage is here to elaborate on what could have been, and it’s even stranger than you might imagine. “I had a whole character worked out for that one scene, a whole subtext, a complete unspoken backstory,” he said.
“The character was just some sleazy guy who wanted to pick up a girl in a Ferrari, and that wasn’t so interesting to me. So I came up with a concept: This character had a physical deformity. He looked like a freak; long nose, bullied as a kid, called ‘Pinocchio’ in the schoolyard. His father felt bad for him, bought him a nice red Ferrari to make him feel good. He’s lonely, and so when he sees these people on the side of the road, he wants to help them and see if they’re hurt. I started screaming, ‘Pinocchio! Pinocchio!’ [in the scene], but they cut that out. And I just got back in my car and drove right away. That’s the whole character, all in 16 seconds. That, to me, is interesting! I wasn’t gonna be some guy in a swanky jacket with gold medallions, “Hey baby, get in my car.” How many times have we seen that?”
Clearly, now that the character has ignited a new generation, it’s up to Rifkin to bring Cage’s story of this bullied child to life. What, pray tell, is Pinocchio up to now? Maybe he can team Cage with Josh Server’s Ear Boy? All That, as you might have heard, is enjoying a renaissance of its own.