It may be lost on an entire generation of moviegoers, but there actually was a time when Nicolas Cage was a big deal in the circles of artsy awards-circuit-friendly dramas. No…seriously, he even won an Oscar! After that, his career took a big-budget popcorn turn, only to later veer off into the realm of bizarre paycheck projects, but now it seems that the legendary crazy-eyed actor is heading back to the world of serious cinema. Cage has been cast in Oliver Stone’s upcoming biopic of the headline-making NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star as the central figure.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cage has been cast as a yet-to-be-named "former U.S. Intelligence Office" in the upcoming film titled, Snowden. The movie will reportedly be inspired by a two different biographies about Snowden’s much-maligned muckraking: The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and the yet-to-be-released Time of the Octopus. The latter book was penned by Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer who fought against Snowden’s extradition to the U.S, and chronicles the time period in which he was waiting in Russia for asylum. Director, Oliver Stone will co-pen the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald, who co-wrote 2014’s The Homesman, a western-set pioneer drama with Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank.
This won't be the first time that Nicolas Cage has collaborated with Oliver Stone, the two men having previously worked together on the 2006 September 11th drama World Trade Center, but Snowden as a project definitely has a different pedigree than most of the movies that Cage has spent his time making in the last few years. The guy has earned a reputation for basically saying yes to any project that is put in front of him, and that has taken him down the path of making movies like Season of the Witch and last year’s samurai/knights mashup action pic, Outcast. Perhaps this new film will provide Cage with the proper opportunity to everything around.
While nothing much is known about Nicolas Cage’s role in the film, the idea of a focus on timely political controversies is certainly not new for Oliver Stone; especially when those issues are still white hot (although, sometimes that creates a level of myopia yielding mixed artistic results). In all likelihood, Snowden will be no different in that sense, as this is the director who gave us several of cinema’s most recognizable politically-indulgent-but poignant dramas, like JFK, Born on the 4th of July, and Wall Street. That being said, he also knows how to carry the occasional psychological thriller with films like Natural Born Killers and the loose war on drugs agitprop draped in sexual intrigue that didn’t end up as shocking as it hoped in Savages. However, Snowden could very well become a hybrid of those two distinct subsets of Stone’s directorial repertoire.
At this point in time it's hard to say exactly how Snowden will be balanced as a narrative, but it wouldn't be altogether surprising if Oliver Stone chose to go with a more linear approach, find a man ripped from his home, his girlfriend and his country after discovering the disturbing breadth with which the government has been using seemingly innocuous aspects of the Internet for post-9/11 monitoring of citizens. Despite its non-fiction label, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man essentially plays out like a spy novel, chronicling Snowden’s escape and eventual asylum in Russia, and that could translate very well to the big screen.
In addition to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Nicolas Cage in the film, Oliver Stone's Snowden will also star the likes of Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, Timothy Olyphant and Joely Richardson. The film is scheduled to leak its way to theaters late this year on December 25th, just in time for moviegoers to craft Christmas-themed stocking caps made of tinfoil.