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Nic Cage reveals father was inspiration behind his magical Disney role

Actor Nic Cage reveals father was inspiration behind his magical Disney role

NICOLAS CAGE had an ace up his sleeve when he decided to portray an all-powerful sorcerer on the big screen.

That's because he knew exactly where to turn for inspiration - memories of his late father.

The influence of Cage's dad, academic August Coppola, was so great that the Oscar-winning actor says his performance in his new film is in loving praise to his father.

In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Cage plays a magician who takes a youngster under his wing and teaches him tricks so they can thwart an evil wizard's plans.

The star revealed the film's idea of the relationship between a kindly master and his pupil reminded him of his father, who died aged 75 of a heart attack last October.

"In some ways, the movie is a real love song to teacher and student relationships," said the 46-year-old. "My father was a teacher and he was the sorcerer in my life.

"He was interested in expanding young people's minds and exposing me to people such as Fellini, Picasso and Orson Welles.

"So in a way I was trying to draw on my memories of him with me as a young boy."

Cage added that even his physical appearance as sorcerer Balthazar Blake in the film is a nod to his father.

"He always had wild hair and looked like a mad scientist. So I wanted to have that look," he said.

Another obvious reason for doing a family film for Disney is that Cage hopes it will entertain his four-year-old son Kal-El, who was in Barcelona for the fim's launch with his famous father and his mum, Alice, who Cage married six years ago.

The movie, which also features rising star Jay Baruchel as the trainee magician and Alfred Molina as the wicked wizard, is inspired by Cage's love for the Walt Disney cartoon, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which featured in the 1940 animation Fantasia.

Cage had been smitten by the cartoon, which starred Mickey Mouse as the hapless would-be magician, since he was in short trousers. When he suggested re-imagining and developing the golden oldie as a live action film, Disney leapt at the idea.

"I am a huge Fantasia fan," said Cage. "I saw the movie at an early age. Disney released it during the holidays and my parents took me to the movie when it was very late at night.

"I was nodding off to sleep and I saw Walt Disney's dancing mushrooms and heard the fantastic classical music. It left an incredible impression on my mind.

"So when this occurred, it was a huge honour and privilege to participate in some way." The magic of the Disney classic hasn't diminished as the actor has grown older.

'My "It influenced my life and everything about it inspired me," Cage said. "I still watch Fantasia once a year. wild I wanted "I lower the lights, put the movie on and lose myself in it." have look new It was the magical Mickey Mouse sequence of the film that really thrilled Cage and the actor, who is a great comic book fan, doesn't hesitate in hailing Mickey as a movie superstar.

"Mickey Mouse is the highest. He is the biggest star in the world and we must all bow down to him," said the grinning star.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the third film Cage has made with his old school chum, director Jon Turteltaub.

The pair still share the same banter they had back in their classroom days, with Turteltaub winding up Cage about beating him to the starring role in a school play.

According to the director, Cage wasn't cast in the lead because he was too cool for the role. But the star tells it differently.

He said: "If I was cool, I had no idea. But I do remember Jon's acting technique and it is something I have used to this day. He did beat me out for the lead role in a production of Our Town. I played a part that had two lines of dialogue.

"But that allowed me to watch Jon's acting style. There was a huge scene where he had an emotional breakdown and he was on the floor of the stage.

"Instead of crying, he had this incredible technique of putting both hands over his face and shaking.

"I knew then I could use that and I did in the film Wild At Heart.

"I remember when Patricia Arquette watched the movie and said I was a cheat because I didn't cry."

Today, Cage has a reputation as a versatile and talented screen star.

He has an Academy Award for his gritty performance in Leaving Las Vegas and has had box office success for romantic comedy Moonstruck and action blockbusters The Rock, Con-Air and Face/ Off.

His mix of movies also includes cult film noir Wild At Heart, the edgy Bad Lieutenant and superhero spoof, Kick-Ass.

Remarkably, despite his successes, it appears Cage has had financial problems.

There has been talk of huge debts and accusations of millions lost due to mismanagement.

All of that, however, is a no-go area - understandably since it's a subject that's probably too painful and personal to air in public.

But if he's hurting, Nicolas doesn't show it. He is clearly a fighter who is already bouncing back with a bunch of films on the way.

He's staying with the supernatural in Season Of The Witch, which is a 14th-century thriller in which he plays a Crusader at the time of the Black Plague who has to hunt down a witch believed to be the source of the pestilence.

And there's speculation about a third adventure in the National Treasure series and a sequel to Ghost Rider.

So Cage seems to have a hectic time ahead, which is probably the way he likes it since he has been in love with the silver screen since he was a tot.

"I was convinced I was going to be an actor when I was six years old," he said with a smile.

"As a small child sitting on the living room carpet, I was trying to figure out how to get inside the TV.

"When I went to elementary school, I imagined crane shots of me walking there. So I had this concept at a very young age that I would be in movies.

"When I was 15, I went to the New Beverly Cinema, a little art house cinema in Los Angeles, and I discovered James Dean in East Of Eden.

"It blew my mind. I was emotionally involved and I knew then about the power of acting."


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