Nicolas Cage says he left his own body shooting iconic ‘Face/Off’ scene
It goes without saying that John Woo’s action classic Face/Off is a masterclass in overacting, with stars Nicolas Cage and John Travolta not just chewing on the scenery, but completely inhaling it.
The two A-listers go for broke with their respective dual performances, with Cage as Cage playing Castor Troy one of the most deliriously unhinged turns you’re ever likely to see in a big budget studio blockbuster. As it turns out, the Academy Award winner is of the belief that he came close to full-blown astral projection during the prison sequence.
Alessandro Nivola recently revealed that his onscreen brother improvised most of his most quotable lines spouted from within the confines of Erehwon, and Cage described his process like only he can in an interview with Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast.
“That movie was an interesting example of independent attitude and big-studio filmmaking. The fact that it worked, that it landed, and the public loved it, I was like, ‘Okay, see, this is why we gotta make both. We can’t give up on the independent movie’. That was the scene in the jail cell where — god, it’s such a trippy movie — where Sean Archer is pretending he’s Castor Troy and so it was so … cubist. And I remember I was like, ‘I’m Castor Troy!’ And it went on and on, almost like a riot. There was a moment in there where I think I actually left my body. I got scared, am I acting or is this real? I can see it if I look at the movie, that one moment, it’s in my eyes.”
You don’t get Nicolas Cage to play a career criminal and psychopath who literally steals somebody’s face and expect him to dial it down, so it’s unclear what producer Steven Reuther was hoping to accomplish when he asked the manic Method man to tone it down and be more concise.
We’re glad that he didn’t listen, though, because Castor’s demented rant during his incarceration remains one of the most memorable moments in a movie that’s absolutely packed to the brim with them.