Nicolas Cage's animate likeness (foreground) in DreamWorks Animation's 'The Croods'.
With "The Croods" opening this weekend, Nicolas Cage takes yet another quirky turn in perhaps the quirkiest film career ever. Cage gives voice to Grug, the animated pre-historic patriarch of the Croods, a family of Neanderthals who are forced from the relative safety of their cave and set off on an epic adventure to find a new home.
It's fitting that Dreamworks decided to animate Cage, because we can think of few actors more cartoonish. Don't believe us? Here's five facts about the man which best illustrate our point.
1. Nicolas Cage being a cartoon is not a new concept. Besides Grug Crood, Cage has given voice to a number of animated characters, including Dr. Tenma in "Astro Boy" (2009) and Speckles in "G-Force" (2009). But perhaps Cage's most well-known animated performance is one he didn't exactly endorse: YouTube user HarryPartridge's viral video "Nicholas Cage Wants Cake," which features Cage lines from "The Family Man" (2000) set to some funky beats. So far, it's amassed more than 6 million views since being uploaded in 2010.
2. Part of being a good cartoon is being an exaggerated figure. Is there a more exaggerated acting style than Cage's? While you can pretty much get a sense of this in every film he's in, perhaps there's no better place to start than from the beginning. As you can see in the video above, Cage's overwrought acting style is already well-honed in his first onscreen performance, as a troubled teen on the 1981 ABC pilot "Best of Times."
Marlon Brando, Lee Quigley & Susannah York in 'Superman'. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection.
3. Before Cage (BC), it would seem that only Superman's parents named their kids Kal-El. But in a most cartoonish turn, in 2005, Cage and his current wife Alice Kim named their newborn boy after Superman's Krytonic name. "I wanted a name that stood for something good, was unique and American and that’s all three. I just thought it was a beautiful name and it had kind of a magical ring to it,” Cage explained back in 2007.
Nicolas Cage, Matt Dillon & Christopher Penn in 'Rumble Fish'. Photo Courtesy of Everett Collection.
4. Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that Cage named his son after a comic book hero, because he took his own stage name from a similar source. When he was first starting out, Cage used his given name, Nicolas Coppola, a name seeped in Hollywood history. But when it became apparent that charges of nepotism would hurt his career (though it helped plenty early on, as in the case of Uncle Francis Ford Coppola's "Rumble Fish"), Nicolas changed his last name to Cage, which was inspired by his favorite Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage, aka Power Man. Cartoonish indeed, though not nearly as much as calling himself Nicolas Powerman would have been.
5. At this point, Nicolas Cage is pretty much the fuel that runs the Internet. Whether it's Cage as cats or as everyone, his face just seems to inspire memes and viral videos. The latest example of Cage inspiring Internet innovation is also another prime example of just how good the man's cartoonish face appears in animation. Check out YouTube user Criken2's "The Legend of Cage: Beneath The Mask," which superimposes the actor's face all over the classic Nintendo 64 video game "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask". But we already know Cage's face is ripe for animation, so why would someone take so much time and care to create yet another Cage video? "The truth is co-modder Shayne and I lost the luxury of free will as soon as we began working on this project. We had no goal, only Cage," says Criken2's description. Perhaps that explains our Cage addiction as well?