Nicolas Cage Dishes On His Tortured Character In 'Joe': Watch

Academy Award winner takes on one of his most challenging roles in the new drama.

Outside of lending his voice to "The Croods," Nicolas Cage has preferred to appear in small indie movies as of late, a trend that continues with the new highly acclaimed film "Joe," in which Cage plays the tortured title character.

"He's a man who has gone through some serious mistakes," Cage told MTV News. "He's been a convict. He is trying to stay restrained and not make the same mistakes. So he stays at home, he drinks, he goes to work."

That all changes when Joe meets a 15-year-old named Gary (Tye Sheridan), whose own life is falling apart. "His home life is a disaster, and I try to help him out of it," he says.

But Joe isn't exactly a great role model. As an ex-con, he strives for redemption but is easily pushed over the edge.

"He has his own law, his own code of ethics," explained Cage. "If you do something that's not right in his law, then he could do something that he will probably regret."

"Joe" is also a departure of sorts for director David Gordon Green, who started out making acclaimed indie films but has become more known for directing Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride in the madcap "Pineapple Express" and co-creating and directing episodes of "Eastbound & Down."

Though "Joe" is a drama, Cage told us that Green's set is "full of life, full of play," as one would expect from the director.

"David wants his actors to improvise," said Cage. "Let's do the scene the way it's written, and then let's do it without any dialogue, let's do it with whatever comes to your mind, and he encourages that.

"It's a sign of someone who gets the best out of his actors."

Check out Cage in the dramatic role as "Joe" expands into a bunch of U.S. theaters Friday (April 11).