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Film

Why did Nicolas Cage turn down the two biggest roles of his life?

@SamWKemp

Nicolas Cage has never been one to adhere to the traditional leading-man trajectory. Throughout his tenure as one of the movie business’ most unpredictable actors, he’s performed in Hollywood blockbusters (National Treasure), meta mind-benders (Adaptation), and Cannes Palme d’Or winners (Wild At Heart). Cage has always been full of surprises. Most surprising of all is that he turned down two of his biggest roles. Why?

It all comes down to his relationship with his son, Weston. Cage married his current wife, Riki Shibata in 2021. In January, the couple revealed they were expecting their first child together, However, Cage also has a son with his third wife, Alice Kim. Kal-El, who was named in honour of, you guessed it, Superman. He was born in October 2005, just a year after his parents married. Cage’s oldest child is his son Weston Cage Copolla, who he had with ex-girlfriend Christina Fulton. Cage and Fulton dated for a couple of years before Weston’s birth in 1990, but broke up when he was a year old and, for the majority of his childhood, Fulton had full custody of Weston- fearful that Cage would have a negative influence over him.

When Cage was given the opportunity to spend time with Weston, he made it his number-one priority, He even turned down two gigantic roles because they would have taken him away from his son. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2022, Cage revealed that he turned down roles in both The Lord of The Rings and The Matrix franchises because they would have forced him to leave Weston behind in Los Angeles. When Peter Jackson realised that he’d cast Aragorn too young, he was forced to find a replacement at short notice. Cage was one of the actors he approached, offering the actor the role for 2001’s The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The multi-film contract would have required Cage to spend three years in New Zealand. The actor, not wanting to abandon Weston, turned down the offer, which was eventually taken up and immortalised by Viggo Mortensen. “I always put my family first,” Cage said, “And I have turned down some enormous opportunities as a result of that.” Around the turn of the millennium, Cage was in the process of divorcing his first wife, Patricia Arquette. This was just one of the many factors that convinced him to turn down another iconic role: Neo in The 1999 film The Matrix. Cage later told the Hollywood Reporter that he has no regrets about his choice. “A version of Nick Cage that doesn’t want to spend time with his kid doesn’t exist,” he said.

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