Nicolas Cage Says His Various Pets Have Inspired His Performances

As some actors continue along with their silver screen careers, they fall into a niche. They take roles that play to their strengths and don't often explore new acting avenues as they would've years before. Nicolas Cage is not one of those actors. For decades, Cage has seemingly made it his mission to try out as many different roles as possible in as many different productions as possible. As a result, at this stage in the game, there's scarcely an endeavor he hasn't tried out at least once, making his filmography as diverse as they come (but these movies stand out as his biggest).

Naturally, as his body of work has become more and more varied, so has Cage's acting repertoire. He can do dramatic, comedic, high-strung, mellow, and every other role in between, hence why he's as in-demand as ever. While one could argue that his incomparable range comes largely from within, it should come as no surprise that Cage has historically taken inspiration from a variety of sources. The bulk of them are human or human creations, but one source of his acting influence actually stems from other four-legged, furry, and occasionally scaly sources.

According to Nicolas Cage himself, his pets have informed some of his performances. Here's what he had to say about this unconventional source of acting wisdom.

Cage's animals influenced him physically and emotionally in front of the camera

In the February 2023 issue of Empire Magazine, Nicolas Cage takes a look back at his career and what has allowed him to enjoy such a stellar Hollywood run. When discussing his acting method, Cage revealed that his pets played into how he approached certain roles. Specifically for 2021's "Pig" — a film where a former world-renowned chef goes on a wild hunt for his lost pig — he used his cat Merlin as inspiration. "I had this horrible nightmare about Merlin, and that was a gift, in a weird way, because I felt the loss as if something terrible had really happened to him," he told the publication.

Aside from Merlin, another one of Cage's pets helped put the finishing touches on one of his film performances. Back when he starred as the titular hero in 2007's "Ghost Rider," he mimicked his pet cobra when developing the physicality of Johnny Blaze. "It would try to [hypnotize] me by showing me the pattern of an eye on its back and then turning around to attack. I used that in 'Ghost Rider,' where my character would do that weird Axl Rose dancing and then attack," Cage explained. He notes that reptiles, in general, can be quite useful when it comes to putting together certain characters.

Inspiration can strike when one least expects it, and for Nicolas Cage, it just so happened to do so while spending quality time with his pets. The methodology might be strange, but it's hard to argue with the results.