The sound of acting

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CINEMA Nicolas Cage talks about the musicality in acting

PLAYING OFF THE RIFFNicolas Cage and Emma Stone
PLAYING OFF THE RIFFNicolas Cage and Emma Stone

He is the patron saint of strange career choices. On the one hand he is the sad alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas (he got the best actor Oscar for his role) while on the other he is running about town with his skull ablaze in Ghost Rider . His masterful portrayal of scriptwriter Charles Kaufman in Adaptation got him an Oscar nomination while he was also back from hell to get his daughter back from a satanic cult in Drive Angry . We are talking about Nicolas Cage, the man who has worked with autuers such as Martin Scorsese ( Bringing out the Dead ) and Brian De Palma ( Snake Eyes ) and also worked in these big, fat action movies including The Rock and National Treasure .

And now he is Crug, the over-protective patriarch in the 3D animation film, The Croods , screened at the 63rd Berlinale. Cage has given voice for animation films before including Astro Boy, Ant Bully and Christmas Carol: The Movie . “Fifty per cent of performance is voice,” declares Cage at the press conference following the screening. “I consider all acting to be music at some level. Chris and Kirk (directors) would put me in a box and I would start imagining things, sounds, maybe a television commercial. It kept me in shape.”

The Croods tell the story of this prehistoric family, Crug, his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), their three children — the spirited Eep (Emma Stone), the huge but slightly dim nine-year-old Thunk (Clark Duke) and little Sandy who doesn’t talk but bites. There is also Gran, Crug’s mother-in-law. Crug relies on tradition to keep his family safe while Eep finds his lack of the spirit of adventure stifling. An earthquake destroys the family’s cave and Crug must lead his family to safety in a scary new world. Guy, (Ryan Reynolds), a cave boy with brains and ideas, seems to show a way forward that Eep is only too happy to explore much to Crug’s chagrin.

While the movie seems to rewrite history (Guy discovered fire, belts, umbrellas—practically everything) director Chris Sanders comments “Cartoons are not for learning. What Crug is struggling with is what every dad is scared of—of the family growing away from you. It is a universal fear.”

Co-director Kirk DeMicco describes The Croods “as a relatable family movie. It explores what happens when a prehistoric family embarks on a road trip.”

Cage says: “To go about any movie as a message movie is to go about it the wrong way. I see it as a reflection of where we are; as a mirror. I don’t think too much; because the performance wont flow.”

Eep’s fiery red hair and feisty nature immediately brings to mind that other red head with cockscrew curls—Merida from the Oscar winning Brave . Sanders says: “We thought of red, blonde, brunette… and stuck with red hair.”

Talking about working with Emma Stone who we last saw in Gangster’s Squad , Cage says: “the relationship between Emma and me in the film is a heart-warming experience. Like I said before, acting is voice and imagination. Giving voice is like jazz, I would riff off Emma’s voice. Even though she wasn’t in the room, I could hear her voice in playback…”

Emma said she liked Eep’s “strength, there is so much physicality, it was so much fun, such a blast.”

Cage spoke fondly of Moonstruck when he said he “had great memories of the film. It is a powerful family movie… I liked it.”

When asked if the world were to end, what would the last role she would play, Emma said she would like to act in the sequel to The Croods . Cage on the other hand thought for a bit saying, “What haven’t I done? I’d like to do a musical if it is the last movie I do. I would like to sing and dance as the world ended!”


The writer was in Berlin at the invitation of Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan




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