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Nicolas Cage changed his name because of Apocalypse Now (sort of)

Nicolas Cage was so tired of people making Apocalypse Now references on a movie set that he decided to ditch the Coppola name for good.

Nicolas Cage in Windtalkers

You may or may not know that Nicolas Cage is actually related to the legendary movie director Francis Ford Coppola. One would think any actor would be shouting this from the rooftops but Cage actually changed his name because of the connection to his uncle’s war movie Apocalypse Now.


That’s right, Cage was once a Coppola. Well, he still is technically, but he ditched the family name back when he was working on the ‘80s movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But with his uncle making some of the best movies of all time, why would Cage abandon the famous surname?

In a feature with WIRED, Cage answered some of Google’s most common questions about himself, and revealed all about the decision to change his name.

“I changed my name because I was doing a little movie called Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and I was still Nicolas Coppola. And people would not stop saying things like ‘I love the smell of Nicolas in the morning,’ because of Apocalypse Now and Robert Duvall saying ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” Cage explained.

“It made it hard to work, and I decided ‘I don’t need this,’ so I changed it to Cage. It’s a combination of Luke Cage from the Marvel Comics, who was a character I liked, also named Power Man. And also John Cage, the avant-garde composer,” he added.

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So there you have it, that’s how Nicolas Cage came up with his name and why he decided to move away from the Coppola legacy. A bold move, but one which has arguably worked out for the best, when you consider the success of Cage’s work in general.