Meet the ever-adaptable and enigmatic Nicolas Cage, a towering figure in Hollywood known for his ability to constantly reinvent himself. Cage has had an astonishingly varied career, jumping from groundbreaking blockbusters of the ’90s to avant-garde films, without skipping a beat. He’s done it all: comedy, drama, and even dipped his toes into B movies.
Despite his eclectic filmography, Cage reflects with fondness on what he considers his golden era as a performer. In particular, he’s revisiting one of his works that didn’t quite hit the mark with audiences at the time—his collaboration with Martin Scorsese, “Bringing Out the Dead.” This revelation came during a recent interview around the release of his new film, “Dream Scenario.”
In the mid-’90s, Cage was riding a high wave. After snagging an Oscar for his heart-wrenching performance in “Leaving Las Vegas,” he surged through a trio of massive box office hits: “The Rock,” “Con Air,” and “Face/Off.” These films not only cemented his stardom but showcased his range as an actor. However, his ambitious project with Scorsese, “Bringing Out the Dead,” turned out to be a box office disappointment. Yet, Cage stands by the film, insisting it was ahead of its time and misunderstood by audiences.
“I love that movie, and I think it will stand the test of time,” said Cage, reflecting on “Bringing Out the Dead.” He recently rewatched it, noticing it was available on Paramount+. The film hasn’t yet made the leap to high-definition digital, but Cage is eager to participate in a potential retrospective interview with Scorsese for the streaming platform. He remains proud of the film and considers it to be among his finest work. “It came out between ‘Snake Eyes’ and ‘National Treasure,’ and I honestly thought it showcased the most unique filmmaking style,” Cage admits.
Cage believes that Scorsese’s approach in “Bringing Out the Dead” was exceptionally abstract, both for the esteemed director and for himself as an actor. However, according to Cage, the film was misjudged because of how it was promoted. Audiences were anticipating another high-octane action adventure—a signature of Cage’s at the time—when in reality the film offered an intense and agonizing look into the life of a worn-out paramedic, based on the novel by Joe Connelly. Sadly, the marketing misstep contributed to the movie being misunderstood during its initial release.
Cage is hopeful that a re-release in high-definition could breathe new life into the film, giving it the recognition he feels it deserves. The initial budget for “Bringing Out the Dead,” which was somewhere between 30 and 50 million dollars according to various reports, contrasted sharply with its meager 16 million dollar U.S. box office gross, making it one of the major upsets in the careers of both Nicolas Cage and Martin Scorsese.
Nevertheless, Cage’s optimism about the film’s resurgence in popularity is a testament to his belief in the power of storytelling and the enduring nature of cinema. As “Dream Scenario” hits the screens, perhaps it’s time to dive back into the depths of Cage’s career and discover, or rediscover, “Bringing Out the Dead” and its place in the pantheon of his wide-ranging and impressive body of work.