Few actors have become more synonymous with scenery-chewing than Nicolas Cage. Between his best roles in films like Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, and National Treasure, audiences have fallen in love with the Oscar winner's ability to turn on a particular weirdness at a moment's notice. That said, with his latest film, The Humanity Bureau, Cage has chosen to tone down the wild nature of his performances in an attempt to capture the dark dystopian atmosphere of the film. In a recent interview, Cage told CinemaBlend:
I know some of the rude reactions to the trailer make it seem like I'm going to go off the rails, but no. I don't think so. Not so much in this one. I'm trying to keep it more contained and internal on this one, and then we'll see what people do or don't respond to. I take your point, though. It's true that I think there is a select audience that really appreciates the kind of id release that happens when I find characters that allow me to go off the rails in a way that is perfectly by design. I know it's meant to look completely out of control, but it's very thought out and carefully constructed with myself and the filmmaker, and we find it together and prepare for it together, but that doesn't happen so much in this one. I gotta be direct about that.
Unlike some of Nicolas Cage's previous films, The Humanity Bureau takes a somber and stern approach to the world that it creates. It exists in a near-future setting in which the United States has been ravaged by an economic crisis and perpetual global warming. Cage plays a world-weary man named Noah Cross (an agent for the titular government organization) and his often-wild approach to characters is less conducive to this "internal" man than a more measured and pensive performance. This just isn't that type of movie.
One of the most interesting things to note about Nicolas Cage's remarks about his approach to Noah Cross is the insight into how he builds his characters. Though some of Cage's performances go into some fairly manic territory at times, he made sure to note that everything is carefully planned with the directors of his films. Nothing happens by accident (even in The Wicker Man), and the nuances of a classic Nic Cage performance all result from some serious behind-the-scenes work.
Obviously, this conversation serves as a reminder for all of the bizarre and (meticulously planned) manic performances that Nicolas Cage has delivered over the course of his career. In fact, you can check out a decidedly NSFW compilation of those roles, below.