The bizarre, but delightful, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent almost didn't have Nicolas Cage in the starring role.
It seems bonkers that anyone but Nicolas Cage could play Nick Cage, but writers Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten faced an agonising wait from the star to see what he thought of the script, and so did have a couple of other names on the list just in case he wasn't interested.
However, the studios were pretty adamant that no other actor would do – not even Christian Bale or Daniel Day-Lewis, who the pair had considered just in case Cage said no to the role.
The movie sees Cage play himself – well, a heightened version of himself called Nick Cage – as he accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan called Javi (Pedro Pascal) in order to stave off financial ruin.
Things take an unexpected turn though when Nick Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) to undertake a secret mission, forcing the creatively-unfulfilled actor to live up to his own legend and channel his most beloved characters to save himself and his family.
"The funny part about that was we have a bunch of studios interested in the script," Gornican told The Hollywood Reporter. "But there's an asterisk on all of this meaning if he doesn't want to do it, your sale goes away.
"Like, by the way, we don't want this f**king thing if he's not in it. There is no other version of it. When he was reading the script it was like this sort of double anxiety. It's not like if he doesn't do it, we'll offer it to somebody else. It was gone."
The filmmakers had some ideas of who they would like to see in the role if Cage did decide not to take the role and the studio agreed.
"There were times when I think I was trying to talk myself into other ideas," Etten said. "The only actually good idea — I don't know whose it was — was to have either Christian Bale or Daniel Day-Lewis playing Nick Cage."
Thankfully, Cage agreed to play a heightened version of himself and no other actor had to save the day.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is out in cinemas now.
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