MACAO, Dec 9 — "I am probably more popular in China than in the US," actor Nicolas Cage says jokingly.
But the 55-year-old award-winning American actor is on the mark when it comes to China, and by extension Asia and the future it holds for the film industry in general.
With much of the financing for movies coming out of China, he said more Western actors and filmmakers are trying to develop relationships with the Asian cinematic industry.
“They now realise how important Asia is, because it is the future of cinema.”
“There’s a reason why I keep coming back to this continent, to different cities in this part of the world," said the talent ambassador for the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM) and it's to say ‘thank you’.
“I know the reason why I’m still blessed to make movies is largely because of China and Chinese cinema and also Chinese investors have thankfully enjoyed my presentation particularly in Face/Off, and maybe Leaving Las Vegas.”
While it makes sense in terms of funding productions and the overwhelming reception of Asian box-offices to movies in general, there is much more to the attraction of the Asian film industry for the world.
“The amount of style and talent is quite remarkable, and I have been blessed to work in several Asian productions.
“John Woo was interesting because he showed me Bullet In The Head, which was one of his great, very operatic movies and I knew right away when I saw that movie where I could go as an actor with the size of performance.”
Hailing Woo as a true cinematic maestro, he said the director would put a movie together in his mind and focus on every detail which was extremely important to him.
And Cage would know from experience of working with Woo on Face/Off (1997) and Windtalkers (2002)
“Woo is definitely my favourite with Hard Boiled, Bullet in the Head and of course Face/Off.
“His energy and the way people move in his movies, literally it’s a dance, powerful, compelling and possibly charismatic.”
Cage revealed that he and Woo were to work on one more film on the building of the railroad system in America which was a “powerful and emotional story”, but the project had not taken off.
He also cited Ang Lee as another favourite, including the latter’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon along with Raise the Red Lantern as among the best films Chinese cinemas that have, “had a powerful impact on me.”
And the appeal of Asian cinema in general is something personally meaningful for Cage in his development as an actor.
“I try to stay in step with what happens in international cinema.”
“To be invited as an ambassador to IFFAM is a wonderful opportunity for me to express my enthusiasm for cinema internationally and to congregate with other people who have the same passion and same interest.
“This year has a great lineup with wonderful selections of film that are world class titles.”
Cage said it was important not to isolate one’s self, to travel and make movies all over the world in the discovery of one’s self as an actor.
“Every place you go, when you make the movie, especially if the filmmaker is from that part of the world, has an energy you absorb and perhaps enable you to find something new about your portrayal or expression as an actor.
“I’ve been doing this for fourty years, made over 100 movies and I’m going to be 55 in two weeks, and I have to find ways to stay interested to keep it exciting not only for you but also for me.”
Saying travelling and enjoying the visions of others, helps him as an actor.
“I’m more on top of my game as a film performer than I ever was by virtue of the fact that I have been practising and I have been taking risks.
“I’m not a gambler but I have taken risks in my work and life because of visions that I had and potential I saw because I wanted to materialize my dreams in cinema and in life, and I feel these risks have been inspirational not only to me but particularly in film to my audience.”
And one of the results of his risk-taking appears to have paid off is his latest release in Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, has been hailed as an instant cult classic by fans and one of the best films of the year by critics.
“Panos had a fantastic freshman effort with Beyond The Black Rainbow which was unlike any other movie I’d seen it was disturbing. The imagery was compelling and it really got into my psyche and didn’t sleep for a couple of weeks
“And I thought any filmmaker that could do that to my physiology is someone I should try to work with.”
Cage insisted on the role of the protagonist in Red though Cosmatos had insisted he play the villain in Jeremiah Sand.
“I didn’t see myself as Jeremiah Sand because I didn’t feel I had any reference point to play that part whereas I did feel with Red, I did have some life experience and some imagination that I could play Red authentically.”
That left the fairly green director “gutted”, but two years later, he approached Cage once again.
“He said he had a dream that I played Red in his movie and he offered me the part and it’s been wonderful that we got to work together.”