Nicolas Cage on how G-Force reminded him about childhood and everything nice
Nicolas Cage embodies some of the silver screen’s most interesting, complex, layered (and sometimes, troubled) heroes. After playing treasure hunter Ben Gates in Jerry Bruckheimer’s National Treasure and its sequel, he is back in Bruckheimer's G-Force, a hilarious family comedy full of action and adventure.
Cage plays another odd-man-out, voicing Agent Speckles, the lone mole in a squad of guinea pigs trained as a Special Ops team. His skill set is limited by his poor eyesight, but makes up for it with his mastery of electronic communications, his intelligence, and the speed and precision with which his fingers dance over the keyboard. He also has a fly, Mooch, who acts as reconnaissance. But, Speckles is still haunted by the violence that deprived him of his family when his home was destroyed to make way for a golf course.
The back story of Speckles gives him considerably more character motivation than you usually find in animated characters, doesn’t it?
That’s why I was drawn to Speckles. Jerry Bruckheimer came to the set of National Treasure: Book of Secrets and he showed me artwork of the characters in G-Force, and told me I could play any character I wanted. I saw the picture of Speckles, and thought I could do something with the voice of the character.
Listening to you do the voice, it just seems like you instantaneously channelled a fictional animated character that was already jumping around in your head.
Yeah, that’s kind of how it felt. It had been jumping around for a little while, and I just had to get it out. It was important for me to create a new voice; it was also important to go into an area that has a kind of zany intensity to it. To me, that’s what would make Speckles fun to play.
This marks your seventh collaboration with Jerry Bruckheimer. You must have a good working relationship.
I think we’re comfortable with each other. I think one of the reasons why Jerry works with me is that my technique and approach are not exactly standard. And, I like working with Jerry because he trusts me to go in different directions. He also knows how to make movies that entertain people, which is a priority for me.
This is Hoyt Yeatman’s (Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor) first film as director. What was your experience working with him?
He was very focussed, very passionate, committed to the material and to each and every character.
You’re obviously a fan of animation. What do you think of the film?
I think it’s beautiful. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for hand-drawn animation in the grand Disney tradition — those movies in the 1930s, such as Pinocchio, are just drop-dead gorgeous. But I realise this is a new age and a new era of animation with computer graphics. I think Finding Nemo is as gorgeous as Pinocchio, in its own way. I think G-Force has a wonderful look to it. And the 3D aspect is great. I always want to feel like I’m somewhere near the cutting edge. I’m looking forward to going to the theatre and putting those glasses on and having the experience.
What do you enjoy most about the animation experience?
I remember what animation meant to me as a child, so I feel that the best usage of my abilities — as an actor, a voice — is to apply myself and try to make kids happy. I want to give them something they can look forward to, and give parents something to look forward to, as well. I remember how I felt as a small child watching television, waiting for the cartoons or Disney movies to come on. So, this is my way of continuing that experience for children.