The acting career of Nicholas Cage has been one characterized by peaks and valleys. Many of his movies have become modern classics, while others have not been received quite as well – if we are trying to be polite. Despite the sheer number of films the actor has appeared in, there are just as many big name movies that he turned down. One such project was Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings franchise, which Cage passed on for a fairly relatable reason.
In a new interview with Newsweek, the actor spoke out about his career choices, as well as his rationale for turning down such a big role. He said:
There were different things going on in my life at the time that precluded me from being able to travel and be away from home for three years. And I do mean it. I get to enjoy the movies as an audience member, because I don't watch my own movies.
For those unaware, Cage was at one point considered for the role of Aragorn in the mega-franchise, before the part eventually went to Viggo Mortenson. While to some it may seem like a missed opportunity, it’s hard to fault him for his reasoning. Signing on to the Lord of the Rings franchise would have required a massive lifestyle change, and an uprooting that many people likely would not have been willing to undertake. Chris Evans voiced similar concerns over taking on the role of Captain America back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in its infancy – big franchises require big commitments, which not everyone is ready to take part in.
More importantly, we need to remember that actors enjoy movies just as much as we do, and many don’t wish to see themselves on screen. It’s reminiscent to a remark made by actor Andrew Garfield just a few months ago. By no longer being part of the Spider-Man franchise, he can now sit in a movie theater along with the rest of us and simply enjoy the movie for what it is rather than stressing over his own involvement.
That being said, in retrospect Cage likely would have benefitted from signing on to Lord of the Rings. Despite a few solid roles in recent years – see: Kick-Ass – many of his roles have become punch lines on the internet. The Wicker Man almost immediately comes to mind. Joining Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth epic could have allowed for a resurgence of Cage’s career – something akin to John Travolta’s role in Pulp Fiction. Also, from an audience perspective, it frankly would have been awesome to see what the actor would have done with the role of Aragorn – we were already deprived of a Cage-fronted Superman Lives, so now it just seems unfair.