cover image Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career

Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career

Keith Phipps. Henry Holt, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-2507-7304-3

Film critic Phipps debuts with an entertaining odyssey through actor Nicolas Cage’s rise to fame and his restless quest to create himself. Born Nicolas Coppola in 1964, Cage used television to escape life with a mother who was in and out of mental institutions. This led to an acting career that began in high school, and, later, the chance to flex his “dramatic chops” in the 1981 TV pilot The Best of Times. Eager to gain his own notoriety (outside that of his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola), he began going by “Nic Cage” in 1985. In exploring Cage’s films from the 1980s to the 2010s, Phipps offers an entrancing look at the actor’s transformation, starting with Cage’s first hit, Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), which showcased the polarizing style of Method acting that became his trademark. Driven by “a need to reinvent himself,” he oscillated from playing characters who “glow with virtue” (in films such as 1992’s Honeymoon in Vegas), to playing bad guys (as in 1997’s Face/Off), and flirted with hokier roles (notably in the National Treasure franchise). Even in underlining Cage’s chameleonlike genius, Phipps doesn’t gloss over the actor’s missteps, including starring in 2011’s Trespass, a box-office flop that marked the beginning of “some of his least creative performances.” Cage’s legions of devotees are in for a wild ride. (Oct.)