With its box-office gross at $124 million, "National Treasure" is only $10 million shy of surpassing Nicolas Cage's biggest hit, "The Rock." Good thing he didn't pass on the role.
"The very thing that gave me trepidation was the same thing that intrigued me, which was the idea of a man going in and stealing the Declaration of Independence," Cage explained. "I said, 'This doesn't seem very plausible.' But I think you have to give yourself over to the context of the movie and go along for the ride."
Cage credits the success of "National Treasure," in in which he plays a treasure hunter searching for a fortune hidden by the Founding Fathers, to the youthful spirit of the movie, which he sees as "reminiscent of Indiana Jones." "It's very much the spirit of playfulness that children have, and it's a great way not to have to grow up," he said.
"National Treasure" is quite the opposite of Cage's next movie, the adult drama "The Weather Man," about a weather man's relationship issues with his wife (Hope Davis) and father (Michael Caine). Gore Verbinski, whose credits include "The Ring" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," directed the movie, opening April 1.
Following "The Weather Man," Cage will star in "Lord of War," which he is shooting now.
"I play a gunrunner who's always figuring out where the political climate in the world is to get rich," Cage said. "He really has no ethics as to picking sides."
Andrew Niccol ("Simone," "Gattaca") is directing the thriller, which also stars Ethan Hawke (as an agent chasing Cage's character), Jared Leto and Bridget Moynahan.
" 'Lord of War' for me is a bit uncomfortable," Cage said. "This is not somebody I would ever really want to be. But it's interesting to explore that character and wear those shoes."
In January, once "Lord of War" wraps, Cage will begin shooting "Ghost Rider," a dream movie for the avid comic-book fan who was once in talks to play Superman.
"Comic books were one of the ways I learned how to read," Cage said. "I was always fascinated by the mythology of them. I discovered a kindred spirit in Stan Lee. I always felt they would be successful as films even before they became successful. They're a wonderful sort of alternative world to lose yourself in."
Cage — whose résumé includes a wide range of movies, from "Raising Arizona" to "Leaving Las Vegas" to "Con Air" — plans to continue spanning genres as an actor.
"I wouldn't want to be on one steady diet of any type of movie," he said. "I have eclectic taste. I think it's dangerous when you get trapped in an identity of movies you want to do. It can work, 'cause then the audience knows what they're gonna get and they can rely on that person, but that would be very boring for me. I would be calcified by that. I love keeping myself guessing and keeping you guessing. I'm fascinated by the as-yet-undiscovered but possible."
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