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Nicolas Cage names the one movie that inspired him to become an actor

There's nobody quite like Nicolas Cage, but the action movie star took his acting inspiration from another icon of Hollywood history.

Nicolas Cage looked back at his action movie career in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage is a unique kind of movie star, capable of starring in the best movies on offer while also appearing in an avalanche of direct-to-DVD dreck.


His career as an action movie star proved to be the inspiration for some meta laughs in the 2022 comedy movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which allowed the star to reflect on his big screen career in a playful way.

Naturally, given that pedigree, his next role is as the ultimate movie villain Dracula in Renfield. But while we wait for the Renfield release date, Cage has been explaining why he chose a career on the silver screen.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Cage pointed to the work of famous drama movie director Elia Kazan as a huge inspiration on his journey into acting.

Cage said he’d already “seen a lot of movies” when he watched the James Dean classic East of Eden from 1955 as a 15-year-old, but that film hit him in an entirely different way.

“I’d seen Bergman’s Seventh Seal and Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits and Welles’ Citizen Kane — great films, but when I saw Dean in that, it really put the hook in me because I felt like him and I knew then the power of film acting, and I knew then what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do to try to move people with motion pictures. So that’s why I have to put that on the list,” said Cage.

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The movie based on a book by John Steinbeck – inspired by the Biblical story of Cain and Abel – starred Dean as a young man vying for the affection of his father, who prefers his brother.

Cage also cited Kazan’s 1951 masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire, which secured 12 Oscar nominations, as another of his favourites.

He said: “I admired Marlon Brando and I know that he influenced James Dean and he really kind of changed the world of film acting with his naturalistic style, but it was because of Vivien Leigh’s performance as Blanche DuBois that I would put that as one of my favourite movies.”

The other three movies in Cage’s eclectic top five are 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Wizard of Oz.

To find out more about Cage’s recent horror movie, take a look at our ‘Who is Renfield?‘ guide and peruse the best vampire movies of all time.