You can’t magically create the Everyman archetype. An actor either has it, or they don’t. Paul Newman had it, whether playing a con artist (The Sting), a pool shark (The Hustler), a convict (Cool Hand Luke) or a past-his-prime hockey player (Slap Shot). And his relatability, his down-to-earth accessibility, ensured that I’d watch him in any movie he tried. You aren’t always rewarded. Newman started in television in the 1950s, and acted on screen until 2005. They weren’t all Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. But Newman always attacked each role with a glint of mischief in his eye and the calm cool that comes with confidence of craft.
As big of a movie star as he was – and few were bigger, ever – Newman always made a connection with the material, and with the audience watching said material. He elevated generic genre films (Fort Apache the Bronx; his Harper films), and salvaged soapy melodramas (often made with his beloved spouse, Joanne Woodward). We lost Newman in 2008 at the age of 83. But his legacy as a scene stealer and a silver-screen savior will live on for an eternity.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Nic Cage, but I remember clearly when I became a die-hard fan: 1997 Con Air. I’ve watched that movie so much I seriously wonder what percentage of my life has gone toward that activity. (20%? 30%?) Since then, Cage’s name has brought me into literally dozens of other movies, some good, some bad, some downright terrible. But I regret nothing because Cage is always worth the price of admission.
Cage never phones in a performance. The guy radiates energy, and whether he’s playing a maybe vampire, a cop wearing the face of his terrorist nemesis, a Batman wanna-be, or a knight charged with executing an evil witch, he’s incredibly fun to watch! Better yet, his star power extends beyond his films to make him seem too weird to be real, yet we accept it. Anytime you read about him naming his son after Superman, or buying a pyramid, or wanting to shut down production on a film so he can switch parts, don’t you 1) believe it instantly, and 2) think “Fuck yeah, Nic Cage!” I do. Nic Cage is the movie star I’d be in my wildest imagination, and for that I’ll follow him anywhere.