Nicolas Cage is one of our most talented actors. One of our most perplexing, odd, and misunderstood citizens. However, as Cage demonstrates, everything unusual about his wild art and life makes perfect everyday logic.
He’s fifteen minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, up a red-brick driveway, past the palm trees that reach for the Mojave Desert sky, through the veil that separates the astral plane, and here he is the man who allegedly made and lost a $150 million fortune; who owned castles in Europe and America’s most haunted house, as well as the Shah of Iran’s Lamborghini and two albino king cobras and a rare two-headed snake When his one-of-a-kind, fanciful life comes to an end, he’ll be laid to rest in a massive white pyramid mausoleum in New Orleans.
Nicolas Cage, dressed in a kung fu outfit, meets me at his door.
He waves me in and hands me a mug of coffee, explaining, “This is my Wing Chun kung fu costume.” “When I was 12 years old, I began studying with my sifu, Jim Lau, because I was a huge Bruce Lee fan. As a result, it’s like putting on my uniform to unwind.”
What more Nicolas Cage shared about the movie?
His voice has a quiet, meditative drawl to it, and each word has a philosophical weight to it. Hearing Nicolas Cage expresses his thoughts on his favored loungewear is like hearing anyone else ponder the cosmos.
As we walk through his house, he says, “I’m still decorating, so please excuse me.” On the half-hour, a magnificent mahogany cuckoo clock chimes. The hall is guarded by mighty bronze dragons. The road is lit by lacquered arms holding torches that emerge from eggplant purple walls. You can see a Persian rug cut from a Lisa Frank coloring book if you look down. You’ll notice a crystal chandelier and an original Creature From the Black Lagoon poster if you look up. Directly in front of you: a prince! A large photograph of Prince roller-skating in hot pants and a Batman tank top, to be exact. Everything in the house is centered on a charcoal drawing of his late father, August Floyd Coppola, who looms over the fireplace.
Nicolas Cage arrived here last summer after settling in Las Vegas in 2006. He came for the low state taxes (there are none), but he quickly grew to like the small-town vibe and the opportunity to disappear. “This relocation saved me in certain respects,” he says.
His best friend is measuring me up from a nearby chair. With a beautiful mane of grey hair, wise golden eyes, and a luxuriant tail, he has the regal bearing of an emperor, and yes, he is a cat. Merlin is a Maine coon. Cage tells me several times, “He’s really sweet and loving.” “Sometimes while he’s asleep, he puts his arm around my shoulder, and I assume it’s my wife, and I go, ‘Oh, Riko.’ Then there’s Merlin.”
After the proprietor of his favorite local pet business passed away, Cage snatched up some of the abandoned animals. A couple of turtles, and a fish with a poor eye for which he felt sorry. They can be found in his kitchen and bar counters, where they live in a variety of aquariums (his Oscar is somewhere up there, too).
As we pause to watch a freshwater turtle meander about, he explains, “My job is to care for them, to make sure they’re happy and safe.” “I’ll have to donate him eventually, just like I did my two-headed snake to the Audubon Zoo.”