It seems strange to boil down a career as varied and unique as that of Nicolas Cage to just four words, but that’s how the eccentric actor himself views it. There’s one piece of direction he got on the set of one of his early films that he has lived by ever since, throughout his best movies – and indeed his worst movies.
In a 2003 interview (via IndieWire) to mark the 20th anniversary of the underrated teen movie Valley Girl, Cage revealed that Martha Coolidge provided the young actor with four words to live by: “Hurt but not defeated”.
“You basically discovered me. You discovered this surrealistic interpretation of myself, which is Nicolas Cage,” the actor said of Coolidge in the interview.
Valley Girl cast the young Cage as outsider LA punk Randy. He wins the attention of middle-class woman Julie (Deborah Foreman) who is increasingly bored of dating her arrogant peers. During one scene, he visits her house and she doesn’t want to see him. It was while filming this that Coolidge gave Cage the pivotal advice.
He said: “I was going through those emotional machinations, and you looked at me and you said: ‘hurt but not defeated’. With that one direction, you totally elevated the momentum of the scene and completely shaped the scene into what it then became.
“I’ve never forgotten that, and I’ve used it ever since, that direction, in all my work. So I think in some way, you gave me a sense of dignity as an actor.”
Cage has proven himself to be one of the best actors of all time since his ’80s breakout roles, and it seems as if we have the director of one of the best teen movies you’ve never heard of to thank for it.
The actor’s new movie is very different, with Cage portraying Count Dracula in horror-comedy Renfield, which focuses on his fractious relationship with the titular assistant (Nicholas Hoult).
For more of the 2023 movies to get excited about, check out our guides to the Barbie movie release date, the Evil Dead Rise release date, and the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 release date.