When it comes to Nicolas Cage, there are few things more fascinating than his hair – other than his career choices, marriage history and spending habits. (Seriously, the guy paid $500k for ONE Lamborghini—hard to believe the star of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin would be so bad at decision making.)
But his biggest (most annoying) sin is that he carries his faux bear-skin-rug look to his personal life. Dressing up your scalp for a movie is one thing – we expect you to play make-believe on set – but the next time Cage shows up at Spago wearing his authentic 1780 French explorer outfit, we will forgive him of his hair-ogance.
But, hey, maybe Cage is just a nutjob. He did name his kid Kal-El after Superman’s Kryptonian name. Perhaps there’s a connection between Cage’s ever-evolving hair styles and his hit-or-miss performances.
Cage’s first career break started with a horrible “Flock of Seagulls” ‘do. Maybe this is his real hair, but, God, we hope it’s not. Still, the movie is fondly remembered, and it did make Cage somewhat of a teen heartthrob...like, fer sure. However, looking back, Valley Girl was like that first hit off a crack pipe. The rush of nervous excitement he felt while sitting in the hair dresser’s chair probably pushed Cage into the downward hair spiral that would eventually lead to Con Air. Damn you, ‘80s teen rom-coms!
Peggy Sue Got Married
So Cage walks into a studio executive’s office shortly after being cast as the romantic male lead in Peggy Sue Got Married and says, “I want to play the role with a ridiculously fake-looking blond pompadour, and I want to speak in a nasally drone that sounds like a Muppet having sex with a helium balloon.” And the studio executive, with tears streaming down his face, says, “How about we take the $18 million we were going to spend to make the movie and just burn it in a big pile?"
We’re pretty sure Cage uses his real hair to play H.I. McDunnough, and it’s his best performance ever. (With all due respect to Leaving Las Vegas, what actor other than Cage could make a line like, “I'll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash you got” funny and memorable?) The untamed id on his head is like a character in and of itself. The Coen Brothers’ screwball comedy about a felon and a cop who kidnap a baby is only aided by Cage’s stringy mane that sticks up and pokes out like a Looney Tunes character brought to life.
Wild at Heart
The thing about Cage’s hair is you can never quite figure it out. It doesn’t look like he’s wearing a piece in Wild at Heart. (If he is, it might be the worst piece ever…or maybe the best. So confusing!) And, yet, how does he have a thick, luscious head of hair for this movie and a thinning mess for Vampire’s Kiss two years earlier? It’s like his hair is a method actor. As for the movie itself, it’s director David Lynch's spin on The Wizard of Oz—or something like that—and Cage plays Elvis. Who knows? Lynch is one of those auteurs everyone pretends they like so they can look cool at coffee bars, but when you actually sit down and watch one of his movies, you’re all, like, “Who is the dwarf and why is he humping the camel’s leg?”
You are forgiven if you didn’t see this 1993 train wreck directed by Nic Cage’s brother, Christopher Coppola, who exists solely to prove that not everyone in the Coppola household has talent. Cage plays a hustler named Eddie and wears a horrible wig and a fake nose and speaks in this unintelligible, grumbling moan, proving scientifically that there is a fine line between wearing a "costume" and a "disguise." Cage is an actor that is easy to like, except when someone lets him indulge every one of his horrible instincts, then you just want to track him down and (metaphorically) kick him in the balls.
Any discussion of Nic Cage’s worst hair jobs has to begin and end with Con Air. His ridiculous Billy Ray Cyrus mullet looked dumb in 1997, it looks dumb now and, in 1,000 years, when future half-human/half-lizard mutant people dig a copy out of the ground and screen it on the latest mental-projection hologram devices, they will think, Wow, who is that moron with the mullet? It is a testament to the awesomeness of Cage’s wig that in a movie about a U.S. Army vet who goes to prison after killing a man in self-defense (A decorated war veteran defending his wife from getting raped goes to prison? Who was his jury? Al-Qaeda?), and that culminates in an airplane crashing in the middle of downtown Las Vegas, Cage’s hair is still the most ridiculous thing about the movie.
Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation was Nic Cage’s last truly great movie (with all apologies to fans of Bangkok Dangerous). Cage was nominated for an Oscar for playing twins Charlie and Donald Kaufman in the topsy-turvy meta-dramedy about a writer trying to finish a screenplay for The Orchard Thief. The actor is almost completely hidden under a fat suit and a patch of thinning curly hair. We’ll give Cage credit for “uglying down” and turning in one of his best performance, even though it comes with an asterisk. For starters, even though it is a horrible hair cut, we’re not certain Cage is not wearing a wig over his own hair to make his thinning hair look like someone else’s thinning hair, if that makes sense. It’s the vanity equivalent of dying your hair black because you don’t want people to know your real hair color is black. He also wears a fat suit, which is bad form from a guy who ate a live cockroach THREE times for Vampire’s Kiss (He couldn't commit to packing on 25 pounds?)
In an odd twist of art imitating art imitating art, Cage’s almost-mullet in National Treasure – a highly entertaining ripoff of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code books – is eerily similar to the almost-mullet Tom Hanks wears in the The DaVinci Code film that came out two years later. It’s as if Hanks was ripping off Cage who was ripping off Hanks who was ripping off Cage. Trippy. But, really, if you were creating a graph of Cage’s career and when he stopped really caring and just mailing it in, National Treasure would probably be at the apex. Given that, is it a coincidence, then, that not only is his quasi-mullet forgettable, the movie lacks any of that patented Nic Cage crazy? Theory: If you kill the hair, you also kill the spirit of the actor who buys it.
In a lot of ways, this is the most offensive hairpiece of them all. Con Air is ridiculous, granted, but no moviegoer looked at that stringy mess and thought it was real. But his ‘do in the comic book adaptation Ghost Rider was ALMOST subtle enough to lure you into thinking it was his actual hair—assuming we lived in a world where men miraculously start gaining thickness of hair when they hit their 40s. It’s lucky, then, that the insane vanity that must consume Nic Cage’s every bloody moment of existence insisted that his hairpiece be painted an unholy jet black, previously only found in oil slicks and the depths of space. When Cage’s Johnny Blaze finally has his face melt away and consumed by the flaming skull of the Ghost Rider, it’s the only time the audience goes, “Now that looks realistic.”
Drive Angry 3-D
Nicolas Cage dusts off the old National Treasure mullet for his latest film, adding a healthy dose of peroxide, just to make it extra creepy. Cage has played felons, action heroes, bad guys, sorcerers, flaming-vengeance demons, screenwriters, con men, oddballs, goofballs and weirdos – and, yet, he has never played a character that was bald. Bruce Willis almost exclusively plays bald characters, and yet Cage feels the need to give every character he plays a thick, healthy mane of hair. When you’re a male actor and you start every script-review process with asking yourself, “Now, what will my character’s hair will look like in this movie?” well, it explains why you choose movies like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. As fans of Nic Cage, we’d just like to remind him that after you open that first page of the script – the one that describes what the character looks like – there’s around a hundred pages of dialogue and plot that follow after it.