Things You Never Knew About Nicolas Cage: the Influence of His Exotic Pets, Why He'll Never Retire & More

The Oscar-winning thespian, who turns 58 on Jan. 7, has had a career spanning three decades — and continues to keep us guessing

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage. Photo: JC Olivera/Getty

Having earned longevity and success in Hollywood, an Oscar, a cult-like following and recently sharing the exciting news of a new baby on the way, Nicolas Cage can seemingly do whatever he wants. And well, he always has.

Hollywood's wild card has built a reputation off of his eccentric antics on- and off-screen, but don't be fooled — he's always been in on the joke. Cage has been entertaining fans since the '80s, being versatile enough to play the bad boy, action star, man on a mission to rescue his truffle pig and most recently, the actor has signed on to play "Nick Cage," an invented caricature version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

Off-camera, he's been enjoying family life with wife Riko Shibata. The two tied the knot in Las Vegas on Feb. 16, 2021, and were "elated" to announce on Jan. 6 of this year that they're having a baby! The bundle of joy will be Cage's third child, as he is already dad to sons Kal-El, 16, and Weston, 31, from previous relationships (he's been married five times).

Riko Shibata, left, and Nicolas Cage arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Pig", at the Nuart Theatre
Michael Kovac/Getty

In honor of the Capricorn's 58th birthday, take a wild ride down memory lane to discover just how little you actually know about Hollywood's most interesting man.

Nicolas Cage is not even his real name.

It's actually Nicolas Kim Coppola, and yes, he's related to the Coppolas you're thinking of. Cage is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather, which also makes him first cousins with director Sofia Coppola.

In 2009, Cage told New York Magazine that at 15 years old, he told his famous uncle about wanting to act while they were in a car together. "Give me a screen test — I'll show you acting," he recalled. "There was just silence in the car."

Early on in his career, the star eventually changed his last name to separate himself from his famous family.


He's not an actor, he's a "thespian."

The Pig star explained why he prefers to be called "thespian" over "actor" while on Variety's Awards Circuit podcast in December.

"For me it always implies, 'Oh, he's a great actor, therefore he's a great liar,' " Cage 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."

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent comes out in April but he won't be watching it.

Cage's upcoming flick is getting a lot of buzz as fans are anticipating the most Nic Cage movie ever, but the star has no interest in watching the film. He told Collider in September that he is "never going to see" the movie because "it's just too much of a whacked-out trip for me to go to a movie theater and watch me play Tom Gormican's highly-neurotic, anxiety-ridden version of me."

"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,' " the actor recalled. "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."

Don't expect him to ever retire.

"That can't happen. To do what I do in cinema has been like a guardian angel for me, and I need it," he told Entertainment Weekly during an interview in September. "I'm healthier when I'm working, I need a positive place to express my life experience, and filmmaking has given me that. So I'm never going to retire."

Cage loves animals and has owned a rare two-headed gopher snake named Harvey Dent and an African pied crow named Huginn who speaks.

Marilyn Manson interviewed the star for Interview magazine in October, and Cage shared that he likes to surround himself with animals, including birds, reptiles, fish and cats. "I just bought a crow. His name is Huginn, after one of [the Norse god] Odin's two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, and he's amazing," the actor said. "He says 'hi' when I walk into the room and 'bye' when I leave. The other morning he started laughing and called me an asshole," Cage said. When asked by Manson why the crow calls him that, Cage responded, "I'm trying to figure that one out."

"He likes to eat cat food, which makes it easy, because I give my cats Sheba Perfect Portions, and Huginn enjoys it as well," he added. "I think he has a sense of humor, so maybe that's why he called me an asshole."

Cage also had a two-headed snake named Harvey Dent, named after the Batman villain (a.k.a. Two-Face). He donated the pet to the Audubon zoo in New Orleans in 2008, and it lived to be around 14 years old until it died in September of 2021. Audubon announced Harvey's death on Instagram, revealing that he succumbed to "health issues related to old age."

His pet king cobras have influenced his acting.

In an August 2019 interview with The New York Times, Cage talked about having two king cobras who "were not happy" and would "try to hypnotize me by showing me their backs, and then they'd lunge at me."

Neighbors had heard about the cobras and were not happy about them, so Cage donated them to a zoo, but he used the cobra's hypnotizing side-to-side method when he acted in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. "That's something my character does before he attacks," he told the outlet. "Animals are fun places to get inspiration." He also had a pet octopus that supposedly helped him become a better actor.

Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library.

If he wasn't an actor, he'd probably be a journalist.

In the same Interview magazine discussion with Manson, Caged shared that he's always wanted to be a journalist. "I was on the high school newspaper, and I enjoyed that. I liked being a newspaperman. I'm very taken by the power of journalism and the power of conversation. What we're doing now is exciting," he told Manson.

He got Johnny Depp to consider an acting career during a game of Monopoly.

In the August 2019 Times interview, Cage also shared how he and Johnny Depp had been friends when Depp was an unknown in Hollywood and was still vying for a career as a musician. While the two were talking over a game of Monopoly, Cage told Depp to try acting and Depp declined, saying, "No, I can't act." Cage persisted and eventually set Depp up to meet with his agent.

"She sent him out on his first audition, which was A Nightmare on Elm Street," Cage recalled of Depp's early years. "He got the part that day. Overnight sensations don't happen. But it happened with him."

Nicolas Cage &Johnny Depp
Barry King/WireImage

Cage owns his own 9-ft.-tall pyramid tomb in New Orleans' oldest cemetery.

In 2010, the star bought his own massive burial tomb with the Latin words "omnia ab uno," which translates to "Everything from One." It's currently housed in St. Louis 1, New Orleans' oldest cemetery. According to an article published by Ripley's Believe It or Not, the tomb "puzzles everyone, even people who give tours of the grave." Since its installation, the tomb has attracted the attention of tourists as well — some of whom have even left their mark on the bizarre structure with red lipstick kisses.

He spent $150 million on 15 homes, including one haunted mansion, two islands, a dinosaur skull, a Lamborghini, exotic pets and a rare vintage comic book.

Cage has amassed a large fortune after working 30-plus years in the industry. At one point, he was on a spending spree, splurging on extravagant items that eventually placed him on a perilous financial path. Then in 2010, Cage had to pay the IRS $14 million in back taxes. During his spending heyday, here's what he purchased:

  • A $150,000 first edition Superman comic book titled Action Comics No. 1 in 1997
  • A 1971 luxury sports car from the late Shah of Iran for $446,820
  • 40 acres of private island living that had been on the market for $3 million. To go with the island, he also bought four luxury yachts totaling $20 million, including one named Sarita that had a jacuzzi, a gym and slept 12 guests, in 2006
  • He outbid Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007 for a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull that cost him $276,000
  • He bought his two king cobras named Moby and Sheba for $276,000, and bought his octopus for $150,000
  • He also owned 15 homes, including the LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans, which he bought in 2007 for $3.4 million. It is known as one of the most haunted houses in America.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits theaters on April 22, 2022.

Related Articles