LoveHorror was lucky enough to be invited to the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Press Conference in a swanky hotel in central London. There we heard that Hollywood legend Nicholas Cage go in depth on his upcoming role as the Spirit of Vengeance in the second Ghost Rider movie and discuss comics, the occult, multiple concussions, shooting in Romania and his visions of a Wicker Man sequel.
Enjoy the interview below and look out soon for our full review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with is released on Friday 17th February.
Question – You play both Johnny Blaze and the Ghost Rider was that a major pull for you in regards to signing on to do a sequel?
Nicolas Cage – That was an opportunity to experiment with movement and my state of mind to believe I was this character. It was is actually Brain Taylor who had the idea to do that he was an enormous advocate of it the first thing I said was, we where in New Orleans, I said can I wear a mask so as not to feel kind of ridiculous as I would walk on the set and play this part.
But there was a writer named Brian Bates The Way of Weird and also The Way of the Actor and in that book he put forward the notion that all actors whether they know it or not come from a long distant past of medicine men and shaman and what these shaman would do is you would go into an altered state of consciousness to try and find answers and solutions to give to village people and in this day and age this person would be considered psychotic but when you think about it, it was a way of channeling the imagination to talk with spirits to get answers so they would wear masks or they would gather objects that had some magical relevance so I thought well because I’m dealing with a supernatural character why don’t I try a bit of that and see what happens.
So I would paint my face with black and white make up so it looked like a skull like some sort of afro Caribbean voodoo icon or New Orlean voodoo icon named Baron Samdai or Baron Saturday who looks like a skeleton the spirit of death he’s also a spirit who loves children he’s very lusty.I would paint my face and put black contact lenses in my eyes so it looked more like a skull so you couldn’t see any pupils or whites in my eyes and I would sew some ancient Egyptian artifacts into my costume and get some rocks that had alleged frequencies, the point is it stimulated my imagination to think I really was that character and I would walk on the set projecting this kind of aura of horror and see in the eyes of my co-stars that fear was there and it was like oxygen to a fire that lead me to believe maybe I really was this spirit of vengeance… the problem is if you have a Christmas party in Romania and your invited to go and schnapps is involved and your still in character all hell can break lose so I’m lucky I’m not in a Romanian prison.
NC – I remembered cobra snakes at one point in my neighborhood I had a couple of them and the neighbors complained so I gave them to the zoo but I would study these cobras and what they would do is move backwards and forwards in a rhythmic motion and on the back of the snake was this kind of pattern of an eye, like an occult eye, and they would be trying to hypnotise me and then as soon as it thought it had hypnotized me it would strike so I thought why doesn’t Ghost Rider move like that that sort of rhythmic motion.
And then there was a nothing thing I had seen in a trick where he was revolving and levitating in a circle, lets have Ghost Rider levitate and revolve in circles, they call it the compass and he picks his next victim and attacks so a lot of thought went into it and also a lot of imagination and improvisation sometimes I would start talking in what I thought was like a Enochic Norse dialogue some sort of Enochian angel speak, who knows what was coming out.
Q – So can you expand further on the specific gestures and movements Ghost Rider makes in the movie at all?
NC – The key is to be enigmatic. My favorite movie is 2001 because it doesn’t answer all the questions and it keeps you guessing that’s what gives the movie such a long shelf life. I don’t want to answer specifically what all the gestures mean but I will tell you that the directors saw Ghost Rider as like a pharaoh so if that helps, but even that I shouldn’t have said (laughs)
Q – A lot of your time in the film is spent on a motorcycle where your nearest and dearest worried about taking risks on such a powerful vehicle?
NC – No she loved it she though it was a very sexy motorcycle and wanted to have a ride on it. The truth is I was blessed to work with the Yamaha V-Max, I’m not sponsor for Yamaha, I don’t have a contract with Yamaha but I have had my experiences on several different motorcycles and they are the best because if you think something that you want the bike to do it will happen so I can go impossibly fast on that motorcycle and tell it to stop safely and it will and I totally trusted that motorcycle I never got hurt.
Now my insurance today told me I’m not allowed to ride motorcycles in my own life so I have to do it when I’m working I’m legally not able to ride motorcycles
Q – Why is that?
NC – Because it a contract I have with my life insurance and, so whenever I get a chance to do a movie where I’m gonna ride a bike I go for it.
Q – Is it fair to say that the characters of Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider mean a lot to you. Has the passion for them grown on this occasion?
NC – I felt I had more to say with it. Ghost Rider was a character that had an enormous influence on my childhood, I was 8 when I discovered Ghost Rider and I had the very first comic and I would stare and that picture, that cover, and I couldn’t get my head around that something so terrifying to look that at was in fact using forces of evil could also be considered good, how is this a super hero? So it was like my first philosophical awakening a character that was literally inspired by Goethe it’s a Faustian contract but of course its really all just a metaphor.
This really isn’t sanctimonious at all its about pop art it’s about having fun its about going along for the ride. In my opinion the deal with the devil is happening every day everyone sells there soul every day. You know how many times does it happen where you meet a lady or a gentleman and you think they truly love you and you find out its really for a green card or its for money or its to sort out what ever their parents did to them and they take it out on you what it’s a deal with the devil.
The movie and that character for me is really a metaphor for life and if you want to compete in this day and age with other comic books you have to provide an alternative and Ghost Rider does that.
Q – Have you sold your soul to the devil then?
NC – Oh yeah I’ve done it probably more than once and I mean it metaphorically which is the only way the devil really exists in my opinion as in interactions with people who don’t walk the walk and talk the talk, people who act one way or who talk one way and will do another. Those are the deals with the devil. I don’t see the devil as some guy with horns and a fork who is there to stab me and send my soul to hell.
Q – You mentioned your love of Ghost Rider starting from your childhood are you a massive comic book fan then?
NC – Well I’ve always like monsters, I like the Hulk as a child, I want to make it clear though there might be a little bit of a misconception about me and my love of comics, yes like Rosebud in Citizen Kane I love the influences of my childhood but I’m not up at 4 in the morning with a stack of Spiderman comics. You know Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Batman these where characters who where a little bit scary to look at and also had the edge.
Q- So your more of a Marvel fan than D.C then?
NC – I would say that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had the biggest effect on my childhood yes.
Q – Your son has written a comic Voodoo Child would you play the lead in an adaptation of that and are there any other super heroes you’d like to play?
NC – No I don’t want to play any other comic book characters. Voodoo Child would be great to see as a TV series or a movie, I tried and tried to get that to happen with different directors.
Q – Do you regret that fact that you never got to play Superman in the planned Tim Burton project which sadly never went beyond pre-production?
NC – No the only regret I have is not having the chance of working with Tim Burton, I hope someday we will work together. As far as that particular character goes I have no regrets I think that Ghost Rider is a far better match for me
Q – You seem to play a lot of anti hero’s what is it that draws you to those characters?
NC – Well the anti-hero is all because of Ghost Rider and that influence your right to point out that I’m attracted to characters that have certain obstacles to overcome weather its inside them or outside them. To me that’s drama, that’s the human experience we all, we all have that. But within that I’m attracted to characters that allow me to realize my more surrealist and abstract dreams. I think that acting like painting or music, that if you can get very outside the box or as critics like to call very over the top, in a Francis Bacon painting why can’t you do it in a movie?
But in order to do that as an actor who is only a collaborator, he’s not the director, you have to find characters that provider an engine that kind of makes that behavior makes sense in the context of the movie so I’m attracted to characters like Terrance in Bad Lieutenant who’s high on cocaine so I can make those sounds in those movies and do crazy things with old ladies or in Ghost Rider because you see that my face is morphing into a skull and there’s pain in that I can then do things like ‘scraping at the door, scrapping at the door’ and make those notes come to life so I have to look for characters that allow me to realize my abstract dreams.
Q – Is it true that directing team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor who head up this movie also wanted you for Crank?
NC – I never even heard that, I can’t imagine that movie without Statham? that’s his part.
Q – There is a very gonzo style to the film in the way Brain and Mark shoot what was it like working like that?
NC – They are daredevils they are literally risking their lives for entertainment. You have Neveldine with a camera in one hand and a motorcycle in the other on rollerblades being pulled to get a shot and at any moment he could break his neck or flying off a cliff with a wire on the camera where he could collide into a stunt man… you have to give them credit.
Q – You’re not afraid to do your own stunts are there any that went too far?
NC – I feel that I have to jump in when I’m doing a movie that has a high level of risk. The odd thing with me as you might notice with all the caffeine in front of me is that it calms me down, caffeine makes me go the other way, it relaxes me. If there is fire on me or asks me to drive extremely fast in a car chase everything slows down and it takes my mind of everything else emotional, whatever barrage may be happening, it all goes away so I like doing stunts. This movie though I knew it was Mark and Brain and I knew there would be a whole other level of extremity as there motto is if you break a bone that shot is going in the movie. But my way of handling that is I give them more with everything, so if a director who likes to do a lot of takes I’ll say give me more I’m not happy with 20 takes lets do 40 that’s my way of psychologically reversing it.
Q – Have you ever been injured on a film?
NC – I wont mention the names of the movies but I’ve had 2 concussions and its funny because in American football they say things like if you have 2 concussions in 6 months your out of the game and I did have 2 concussions in 6 months working with stunts on 2 movies at the same time and thankfully I’m okay.
One of them was ridiculous it should have never happened where my head, the actor was in his moment, he grabbed my head and smashed it on a marble floor and then I just couldn’t speak right for a couple of days and was very dizzy but I was okay it was just an unfortunate accident.
Q – You and Idris Elba have a great chemistry on screen did you work together before shooting in rehearsals?
NC – No we just hit it off. Idris is someone I consider to be a friend you know I like him as a person, we had some good conversations I admire his film presence he has a larger than life presence which is something that’s interesting to me so thank you for noticing.
Q – You have visited England before what do you like about
England so much?
NC – I came here largely because of my interest in British history and mythology and because although I know I’m far from home and I’m a visitor in your beautiful country being American I can’t help but feel some connection to the land because of my appreciation for it and because of the way England happened with different elements coming into the area and forming the language the Romans and the Saxons and all of it as a white American you can’t help but feel a pull to that.
Q – What was it like filming in Romania?
NC – There where a lot of stray dogs everywhere roaming around I didn’t know where they came from or where they where going to go and I would hear them at night and then it was impossible not to think of Bram Stoker and the children of the night howling at the moon as the dogs where barking so Romania was kind of a spooky cool place to make a movie and the fact that Vlad the Impaler’s castle was there just added to the charm of that. To ride my motorcycle out there and to be around all those kind of scary energies but beautiful in some ways just kind just stimulated me.
Q – What scares you most?
NC – I think that I’m always fearful of something happening to people I love that that doesn’t go away. What scared me as a child was Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera I would see like promotions for it on television as a boy and the mask would come up and I would see his face and it would really freak me out I remember running away form the television trying to avoid that.
Of course now I love him for it, what does that say about my psychology, but I love Lon Chaney for scaring me.
Q – You have worked with many great directors over the years like Scorsese and Lynch but which director had the greatest influence on you as an actor?
NC – Well I think they all had enormous effects on me um but because I started acting at such a young age, I began as a child actor in some ways because I started so young some of the filmmakers I worked with at a young age had a bigger effect on me as I was still learning and still impressionable so I would say Lynch, Coolidge they had enormous effects on me, those people.
Q – Ghost Rider is shot in 3D, what’s your opinion of making 3D a movie?
NC – I see 3D as a tool… its not something to use all the time just another paint brush to work with and Ghost Rider is a character that I think works well with 3D. The chain can go in the audience and the fire and the motorcycle and all that.
Q – Did you experience anything supernatural while filming the movie?
NC – I’m of the opinion that everything supernatural is you know in the imagination and I have wonderful flights of fancy in my imagination I can’t say that anything outside the realm of the natural occurred while filming the movie, no.
Q – Finally here is a line in the film that mentions bee’s is that a link or nod to your Wicker Man remake at all?
NC – See now I never thought of that. But I do have fantasies of doing another Wicker Man but just because I want to take it to Japan try and get your head around that one.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is released on Friday 17th February