Nicolas Cage is garnering a lot of attention at the moment, thanks largely to his latest film, the blood-soaked, hallucinatory Mandy. Directed by Panos Cosmatos, the film not only manages to be a lurid, bizarre bit of uber-violent spectacle, but also the home for a crazy Nicolas Cage performance that’s deranged in ways that are fairly different from the typical crazy Nicolas Cage performance. And if that sounds like a largely academic distinction, well, you should spend some time with this 20-minute GQ video starring the Oscar-winning actor, in which he breaks down the inspirations and nuances behind the majority of his most “iconic”—i.e., wonderfully nuts—characters.
Cage is rarely anything but relentlessly honest about his performances anyway, but there’s a real delight in watching him break down the often esoteric processes underpinning films like Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas, and more. Whether he’s discussing the impact of his bongo-playing on his performance in Leaving, or his desire to terrify Werner Herzog as the “California Klaus Kinski” in Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans—complete with an energetic Herzog impression—Cage is both very charming and very funny in his descriptions of and reactions to his work. He even manages to get in some Vampire’s Kiss talk, dubbing the 1989 film his “favorite Nicolas Cage movie,” and discussing the way he used Face/Off to slip those same “abstract, ontological facial expressions” into a mainstream commercial film.