The Iconic SNL Skit Andy Samberg Says Nicolas Cage Didn't Prepare For At All

In "Saturday Night Live's" long history–the show started in 1975 and is currently in the middle of its 47th season on NBC–one of the show's most enduring gags is the surprise celebrity cameo. When it comes to live television, there's nothing quite as shocking or delightful as seeing an A-list movie star drop in the middle of a Cold Open sketch to deliver a not-very-good-but-who-cares impression of a politician or other news-maker.

"SNL" has done the surprise celebrity cameo so many times that it even has its own subgenre–a cameo alongside their own doppelganger, played by a cast member. Typically, this happens on "Weekend Update," like the time when Robert DeNiro famously crashed a segment with Jimmy Fallon doing a bad DeNiro impression. DeNiro proceeded to deliver an equally bad impression of Fallon. If you missed it, you can check it out on YouTube.

One of the most memorable of these cameos came in 2012. Andy Samberg had been doing a popular "Weekend Update" segment called "Get in the Cage with Nicholas Cage," in which he impersonated the always-intense actor Nicholas Cage and interviewed other, real celebrities. Inevitably, Cage himself appeared during the segment during the show's 37th season.

During the segment, the two take veiled shots at each other. Samberg says that all of Cage's movie dialogue is either "whispered or screamed," while Cage says that Samberg's impression of him is an "exaggerated screaming psychopath who doesn't really exist" (via YouTube).

In 2018, Samberg and former "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers talked about how the sketch came about, and specifically Cage's lack of preparation.

Nicholas Cage doesn't need much prep to play himself

Meyers and Samberg appeared at the Writer's Guild Theater in 2018, where they talked about the segment.

It might seem unlikely that Cage would agree to appear in a segment that openly mocks him, but Samberg explained that the impression was never really meant to poke fun at Cage in a realistic way. "It was not even remotely like Nic Cage," Samberg said. "It was just a lunatic person that we called Nic Cage. To his enormous credit, he recognized that and thought that was funny and came on 'SNL' and we did it as twin Nic Cages." Meyers also pointed out that the sketch itself allows Cage to call Samberg's impression unfair, which no doubt helped to ease any possible tensions in the situation. 

When Cage arrived and Samberg and Meyers approached him in his dressing room, they realized that he hadn't read the script, but this proved not to be an obstacle. During the rehearsal, the comedians knew they had a hit.

"He was very quiet, but ready to act," Samberg said. "Nic Cage is still, for my money, one of the most interesting people in the world to watch. Genuinely, I was enraptured. Then it finished and he was like, 'OK.' We walked out and skipped down the hallway, we were so excited."

Meyers also remembered Nicholas Cage getting so committed to the scene that he slapped the "Weekend Update" desk, causing Meyers to yell out a surprised, "Guh!" (via IndieWire).

This sketch was already one of "SNL's" top highlights of the 2010's, but this revelation makes it even more impressive.