IT was one of the weirdest performances on British television – Nicolas Cage performed a somersault and high kicks in a leather jacket, then hurled cash at Terry Wogan’s audience.
In the 30+ years since, the Oscar-winner has continued to baffle fans and friends with his odd behavior.
Whether it was taking his Elvis Presley obsession to the point of marrying the King’s daughter Lisa Marie, collecting dinosaur bones, or sharing magic mushrooms with his cat, Cage likes to live life on the edge.
And at 58, he seems to have caught everyone on the wrong foot again by touting his dislike for the “obnoxious” Wogan-era Cage – as that hasn’t stopped him from embracing that over-the-top persona for a new film in which he plays along, revisit plays itself.
In the quirky action film The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, a gangster pays Cage to attend his party.
The usually confident star of films like Face/Off, Con Air, Wild At Heart and Kick-Ass says he was “terrified” about starring in a movie as himself.
So instead of portraying the milder, modern Cage, he opted for the wilder old version. He says: “I was looking at an old interview I did on the Wogan show where I was Handspring in the front.
“I was promoting Wild At Heart, doing karate kicks, throwing money at the audience, and I was like, ‘This guy is a really obnoxious, arrogant, disrespectful, crazy man – and I think he needs to be in this movie.’ ”
Anyone who saw Nic’s 1990 interview on Sir Terry’s BBC1 talk show will have a hard time forgetting it.
The long-haired actor took off his t-shirt, handed it to Terry and ended their conversation shirtless.
He told the late TV legend, “I had this need to do crazy things and maybe I liked the idea of robbing banks if I hadn’t been an actor.”
And if that seemed an unlikely career path for the nephew of the great American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Nicolas – the son of a literature professor – claimed to have attended a correctional facility for juvenile delinquents after getting into trouble in regular classes.
But after deciding against science or robbing a bank, he followed The Godfather director Francis to Hollywood at the age of 16.
Two years later he starred opposite Sean Penn in the fast-paced comedy Fast Times At Ridgemont High under his real name Nicolas Coppola.
But because the cast and crew kept quoting him from The Godfather, he soon changed his last name to Cage — and quickly earned a reputation for being unorthodox, both on and off screen.
He proposed to actress Patricia Arquette the day he met her in 1987, though it was another eight years before they got together, and at one point he turned on the rage he needed to play a gangster by driving a remote control car shattered.
The Coen brothers’ 1987 cult hit “Raising Arizona” and David Lynch’s “Wild At Heart,” in which his character Sailor did a backflip out of a car, cemented his notoriety.
But it was a string of 1990s hits, starting with a best actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas in 1996 and the jailbreak action film The Rock that same year, that made him a household name.
In his new film, Nicolas decided to give audiences a dose of this old testosterone character, although he insisted he didn’t like who he was back then.
He says, “They talked a little bit about Con Air’s Cameron Poe and I said, ‘That’s cool, but that’s not Nic, that’s Con Air, that’s Cameron Poe.’
“That was Nic in 1990 and I’m so glad I’m not like that person anymore. But I was happy to bring him back.”
The film captures what the actor calls his “neurotic” side, which the filmmakers wanted.
He told the film’s writer-director Tom Gormican, “Actually, I have really quiet moments at home reading with my cat. Won’t you put something like that in there?”
Thankfully, Tom declined.
And indeed, there doesn’t seem to be much still about the actor’s life.
At the premiere of The Unbearable Weight in New York this week, Nicolas walked the red carpet with his pregnant fifth wife, Riko Shibata, who is 31 years his junior.