Nicolas Cage Paid Off Debts Doing Direct-to-Video Roles 'Back to Back' But He 'Never Phoned It In'

"I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all," he said of the jobs he took on to help pay off his financial debts

Nicholas Cage and his wife Riko Shibata
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

Nicolas Cage stands by his string of direct-to-video movies, which he admits he did for the paydays while chipping away at financial debts.

The Oscar winner, 58, opened up to GQ magazine about his career moves, particularly how he went from starring in blockbusters to churning out countless video-on-demand releases, explaining that he took the jobs to help pay off debts.

"The phone stopped ringing. It was like, 'What do you mean we're not doing National Treasure 3? It's been 14 years. Why not?' Well, 'Sorcerer's Apprentice didn't work, and Ghost Rider didn't really sell tickets. And Drive Angry, that just came and went.' "

After the death of his father August Coppola in 2009, Cage then took care of his mother Joy Vogelsang and experienced financial woes: "I've got all these creditors and the IRS and I'm spending $20,000 a month trying to keep my mother out of a mental institution, and I can't. It was just all happening at once," he recalled.

Vogelsang died last year. According to GQ, Cage completed paying off his debts about a year and a half ago.

The movie star added that he was still interested in the movies he was making, even if they weren't destined for big-screen box office success.

"When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all. They didn't work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like Mandy, but some of them didn't work," he said. "But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring."

Nic Cage in GQ
Jason Nocito/GQ

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Back in August 2019, Cage told The New York Times Magazine that financial reasons did play into his taking on multiple jobs back to back.

"I can't go into specifics or percentages or ratios, but yeah, money is a factor. I'm going to be completely direct about that. There's no reason not to be," he said at the time. "There are times when it's more of a factor than not. I still have to feel that, whether or not the movie around me entirely works, I'll be able to deliver something and be fun to watch."

"But yes, it's no secret that mistakes have been made in my past that I've had to try to correct," continued Cage. "Financial mistakes happened with the real estate implosion that occurred, in which the lion's share of everything I had earned was pretty much eradicated. But one thing I wasn't going to do was file for bankruptcy."

Cage said he had "this pride thing where I wanted to work my way through anything" rather than file for bankruptcy, which he said "was both good and bad."

RELATED VIDEO: Nicolas Cage Says He Has 'No Regrets' in Life: I See 'the Positive in Every Negative'

"Not all the movies have been blue chip, but I've kept getting closer to my instrument. And maybe there's been more supply than demand, but on the other hand, I'm a better man when I'm working," said Cage. "I have structure. I have a place to go. I don't want to sit around and drink mai tais and Dom Pérignon and have mistakes in my personal life. I want to be on set. I want to be performing."

He added, "In any other business, hard work is something to behold. Why not in film performance?"

Cage next appears in the movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in theaters April 22, playing a comedic version of himself.

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