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December 2007
An Interview with Nicolas Cage

An Interview with Nicolas Cage

By Alberlynne ‘Abby’ Harris

December 17, 2007

The blockbuster adventure movie, National Treasure, returns with The Book Of Secrets, for its second installment of a historical journey that takes on a magnificent ride with an ensemble cast of favorites and exciting newcomers to the team. Blackfilm.com sat down with Nicholas Cage to discuss his unforgettable role as Benjamin Gates.


So what were some of the criteria involved with getting you to sign on to do this sequel project?

Nicholas Cage: Well, you may not be aware, but I have not done a sequel before. Generally speaking I never like to repeat myself. In this case, I feel that if you are going to do a sequel it need to be better than the original, or at least as good. Largely, the problem with sequels is that people get lazy. They realize that they have a winner and they just throw money at it and they don’t care. Luckily, working with John Turteltaub he really cares about the story. I wanted to make sure we could go in a direction that we could raise the stakes and make it more interesting. When they first presented the idea of The Civil War, confederate gold, Booth and the Lincoln assassination, I felt it was more interesting, historically. Book of Secrets is like a movie unto itself. You change the whole story with new clues that are historically accurate and the characters stay the same. Ben Gates is a modern version of a detective unlocking the mysteries of these treasures.

Talk more about this film being a family film and really being dedicated to our youth.

NC: John has a genius in that he has made movies without a gun and that are entertaining. You can take the whole family and inspire the youngsters to get into their history books. Children are of the utmost importance. They really are our future. I want to treat that carefully. I’m one of those people who believe film is intense and you have to really think about it responsibly. In this case we wanted to get them to enjoy themselves with mom and dad and also look in their history books in a way that you must learn, but actually enjoy the ride even more because there is a level of believability to it.

It’s been a while since the first National Treasure. How do you feel your role as Ben Gates has changed?

NC: That was my first question to Jerry Bruckheimer. It has been three years. I’m not the same guy I was. How can I go back and be Ben Gates? He said the character has changed. I’m smiling more, I seem happier. I think a weight had been lifted off the character. He has been accepted academically, he’s warmer and happier than the first movie.

In what ways are you most like the character you play, Benjamin Gates?

NC: One of the things that come to mind is, ancestors. In a lot of so called primitive cultures there’s a tremendous respect for ancestry that we don’t see as much in modern American culture. With Ben, I wanted to make it clear that he really believes in a chivalrous way that everything he is, is because of his ancestors. They are not dead to him. I try to embrace that in my own life. Because of playing Ben Gates, I really appreciate history. I enjoy being in places that I feel the weight of past events and architecture and old buildings. With your imagination, you can time travel.

Tell us more about having your new baby and how much your life has changed.

NC: It’s very natural. You don’t even think about it. I think the main changes are that my priorities have improved. I started acting at a very young age. I had interests, not saying that they were wrong, but motorcycles are not as boring as they once were to me. I like a good book and being in nature or on the water with my family. Those are the real treasures.

It’s been a while since you and your Uncle, Francis Ford Coppola worked together, are there any plans for that to happen in the near future?

NC: Last time I worked with Uncle Francis was When Peggy Sue Got Married, and I was really happy with that. If he called, I would certainly like to work with him again. I’m happy to see he’s behind the camera again. I wrote him an email recently saying the world needs more of your movies. So I am excited to see what he does.

Are you someone that often challenges authority?

NC: I believe there is a way to question authority with manners and dignity. There is no reason to be rude about it. You can still say I want some clarity here. I don’t want to get political, but The Book Of Secrets is an urban myth, but I am sure there are materials that are classified that we are not supposed to know about for whatever reason, that we’d like some answers on.

What was it like working with Helen Mirren?

NC: Helen Mirren is someone that I’ve really admired since Excalibur. She’s really down to earth. I have to tip my hat to her that she would win the Oscar for The Queen and then in the grand spirit of Douglas Fairbanks, go and make an adventure film. She’s got a great spirit and zest for life to jump around and wear the wire. I love her for that. And she’s funny! Within two minutes she puts you at ease and doesn’t take herself too seriously. We had great laughs together and I’d love to work with her on every movie.

What about working with Ed Harris?

NC: I had worked with Ed on The Rock. He’s one of those actors that is brutally real on film and you can’t help but be blown away by his talent. He’s always got this weight to him that is compelling.

Tell us about working with Jon Voight.

NC: I’ve always said if you’re gonna cast someone to play my father, cast the greatest actor in the world. They said, what about Jon Voight. I said, that’ll work for me!

Will there be a third National Treasure?

NC: I believe it should be come more and more “International” Treasure. In this one we went to London, England and Paris, France, I’d like us to go into Africa, Egypt, Asia…my hope is that Ben is recruited and gets a job and goes on hunts on behalf of other countries. That would be a lot of fun for me.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets opens in theatres nationwide December 21, 2007



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