Nicolas Cage is a unique fella, and each Nicolas Cage movie is every bit as unique as he is. He might be one of the best actors alive, but he’s also about as unpredictable as it’s possible to be. And that includes wanting to share the screen with a deadly snake.
In the 2013 crime drama Joe, which critics called one of his best movies of the last decade, Cage’s title character picks up a venomous cottonmouth snake. Of course, the actor wanted to do this for real.
As if that wasn’t wild enough, Cage found the scene relaxing, as he explained in an interview with The Talks. Presumably his next few new movies will feature him punching sharks and wrestling crocodiles. That’s his version of a summer afternoon on the beach.
On the making of Joe, he said: “I had a four-page scene where they wanted a snake to be in the grass. They had a snake that had no poison and I said: ‘You know what, I think we really need to take a chance here and use a real snake and pick it up and use it in the scene’. And they were like: ‘Why?’ I said: ‘It’s a big scene and I think it will relax me’.”
Thankfully, for those of us scratching our heads and loudly yelling something akin to WTF, Cage elaborated on why exactly handling a dangerous reptile had such a calming effect on him.
“I’m one of those people that when I do stunts or drink a lot of coffee it calms me down. And I like what it can offer in terms of creativity – you could feel the focus on set. You don’t have to act. If you can avoid acting and get to the truth of it and be in the moment, something magical will happen.”
Cottonmouths are less dangerous than rattlesnakes and some other American reptiles, but their bites can come with enough venom to kill and limb amputations post-bite are fairly common.
If you want a recommendation from us, we’d leave them well alone. But Nicolas Cage is very much a law unto himself. We wouldn’t have him any other way.
For more from the wild world of Cage, check out our Renfield review for what we thought of his latest movie. We’ve also delved into the gross movie scene Cage never wants to repeat and the acting advice Cage got from David Bowie.