Nicolas Cage prefers to be called a 'thespian' instead of an actor 1
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Nicolas Cage prefers to be called a ‘thespian’ instead of an actor

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Nicolas Cage revealed Thursday that he doesn’t consider himself an actor.

Instead, the 57-year-old Oscar winner prefers the term ‘thespian’ to better describe how deeply he engages with his craft.

The Pig star shared his unorthodox definition of a thespian while chatting with Variety for its Awards Circuit Podcast.

One from the heart: Nicolas Cage, 57, said on Variety's Awards Circuit Podcast that he prefers to be called a 'thespian' instead of an actor because it 'means you're going into your heart'; seen November 29 in NYC

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One from the heart: Nicolas Cage, 57, said on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast that he prefers to be called a ‘thespian’ instead of an actor because it ‘means you’re going into your heart’; seen November 29 in NYC

Cage explained that he dislikes the term actor because he associates it with lying.

‘For me it always implies, “Oh, he’s a great actor, therefore he’s a great liar,”‘ he said. ‘So with the risk of sounding like a pretentious a**hole, I like the word “thespian” because thespian means you’re going into your heart, or you’re going into your imagination, or your memories or your dreams, and you’re bringing something back to communicate with the audience.’

Despite his passionate feelings about the term, Merriam-Webster simply defines ‘thespian’ as an actor, and the word is inspired by the Greek dramatist Thespis, who innovated theatre by writing plays in which individual actors read lines, whereas earlier works had exclusively used choruses.

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Cage displayed plenty of heart in his latest film, Pig, which was released in July. 

To tell the truth: 'For me ["actor"] always implies, "Oh, he's a great actor, therefore he's a great liar,"' Cage said, while 'thespian' makes him feels as if he's delving into 'dreams' or 'memories'; still from Pig

To tell the truth: ‘For me [“actor”] always implies, “Oh, he’s a great actor, therefore he’s a great liar,”‘ Cage said, while ‘thespian’ makes him feels as if he’s delving into ‘dreams’ or ‘memories’; still from Pig

He stars in the independent drama as a former world-class chef Robin Feld, who has retreated from society and lives in a shack in the woods outside Portland, Oregon, after suffering a personal tragedy years earlier.

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He lives off the land and provides pricy truffles to local restaurants, which he’s able to obtain thanks to a truffle pig that he’s tightly bonded to.

But when he’s brutally assaulted and his pig is stolen, Robin makes a rare foray into the city in hopes of finding his only friend.

The film has received an impressive 97 percent fresh rating from critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes, and Cage has received nearly universal praise — along with some Oscar buzz — for his uncharacteristically understated performance.

In his podcast interview, Cage referred to Pig’s first-time director Michael Sarnoski as the ‘Archangel Michael’ because of how he gave his career a much-needed boost.

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‘I knew after a couple of flops that I had been marginalized in the studio system; and I wasn’t going to get invited by them,’ Cage said. ‘I always knew that it would take a young filmmaker who would come back or remember some movies I had made and know that I might be right for his script and rediscover me.’

Beloved role: Cage called Pig's first-time director Michael Sarnoski the 'Archangel Michael' because of how he gave his career a much-needed boost with the naturalistic role, which has been universally acclaimed; still from Pig

Beloved role: Cage called Pig’s first-time director Michael Sarnoski the ‘Archangel Michael’ because of how he gave his career a much-needed boost with the naturalistic role, which has been universally acclaimed; still from Pig

He continued, ‘And that’s why he’s not just Michael. He’s Archangel Michael. This wouldn’t be happening if he didn’t have the open mind to say, “Come with me.”‘

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Cage also seemed to dismiss complaints from some critics that many of his latter-day performances have been ‘over the top.’

‘Well, when they say that to me, I say, “You tell me where the top is and I’ll tell you whether or not I’m over it.”‘

The Moonstruck actor explained that he has appeared in wildly varied films as a strategy to keep his filmography interesting.

‘It was my aunt Talia Shire who first said to me, “Naturalism is a style,”‘ he said, referring to the Godfather actress. ‘And I was also a big believer in arts synchronicity, and that what you could do with one art form you could do and another meaning. You know, in painting, for example, you can get abstract, you can get photorealistic, you can get impressionistic, why not try that with film performance?’

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Coming soon: Cage's next big acting challenge will be playing a fictionalized version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday party of a crime boss (Pedro Pascal)

Coming soon: Cage’s next big acting challenge will be playing a fictionalized version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday party of a crime boss (Pedro Pascal)

Cage’s next big acting challenge will be playing himself — or at least a fictionalized version of himself — in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

He stars as a zanier version of himself in the action comedy, while Pedro Pascal plays a crime boss who offers him $1 million if he’ll attend his birthday party, which erupts in violence.

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The film also stars Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris, Ike Barinholtz and Sharon Horgan.

In September, Cage explained to Collider that he had no plans to see the film because of how different his character is compared to his real-life self.

‘I’m told it’s a good movie,’ he said, explaining that his manager (a producer on the film) had enjoyed it. ‘I’m told the audience loved the movie. But it’s just too much of a whacked-out trip for me to go to a movie theater and watch me play [director] Tom Gormican’s highly-neurotic, anxiety-ridden version of me.’

Though he’s played plenty of high-strung characters in the last two decades, Cage said he’s much more laid-back in reality. 

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‘I said “Tom, that’s not really me. I’m really [made of] quiet, meditative, thoughtful moments. I’m not this neurotic, high-strung, anxiety-ridden guy all the time.” But he said, “Well, neurotic Cage is the best Cage,”‘ he recounted. ‘I said, “Okay, okay. Let’s go, man. I’ll do what you want.” I won’t see it. But I do hope you enjoy it.’

Taking a pass: In September, Cage explained to Collider that he had no plans to see the film because of how different his character is compared to his real-life self, even though his collaborators told him it was good

Taking a pass: In September, Cage explained to Collider that he had no plans to see the film because of how different his character is compared to his real-life self, even though his collaborators told him it was good

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