Nicolas Cage Says He Doesn't Consider Himself an Actor: 'I Like the Word Thespian'

"I like the word 'thespian' because thespian means you're going into your heart, or you're going into your imagination," Cage says

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage. Photo: JC Olivera/Getty

Nicolas Cage would prefer he not be described as an "actor."

The Pig star, 57, spoke about his preference — and his extensive career — while on Variety's Awards Circuit podcast this week.

"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."

Cage is currently getting rave reviews for his performance in Pig, in which he plays Rob, a former chef who hunts truffles with his pig companion. When the pig is kidnapped, Rob goes on a rescue mission to retrieve her.

Cage says he's grateful to have been given the chance to star in the film by director Michael Sarnoski, whom the actor refers to as "Archangel Michael."

"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, referring to the studios. "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."

He added, "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.' "

Cage has experienced a new resurgence in his career. The thespian will star in the upcoming film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent as a version of himself.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Pedro Pascal and Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate

Directed by Tom Gormican (Ghosted), the film follows Cage as one of his superfans, a crime boss named Javi (Pedro Pascal), pays Cage $1 million for the star to attend his birthday party, where chaos ensues.

The film also stars Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, Neil Patrick Harris, Ike Barinholtz and Lily Sheen — the daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen.

"['Nic Cage'] is an invented version of Nic Cage. The character is feeling unfulfilled and contending with the rejection that can happen so often in the small town that is Hollywood. It's not me. I'm feeling pretty good about things," Cage, 57, told Entertainment Weekly.

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Back in September, Cage told Collider that he is "never going to see" the movie. He explained, "I'm told it's a good movie. My manager Mike Nilon, who is also a producer on it, looked at it. He was very happy. 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 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."

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is out April 22.

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