Nicolas Cage Reveals His Secret Acting Style and How to Do It

Nicolas Cage

VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 30: Nicolas Cage at the 'Joe' Photocall during the 70th Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2013 in Venice, Italy (ChinellatoPhoto /

acting style.

Nicolas Cage does not often do interviews, but he recently opened up for New York Times Magazine discussing his career and his unique form of acting. In the interview, Cage talks about many different parts of performing. Cage explains how he is influenced by his pets, his mission to stick to the director’s vision, and his “nouveau shamanic” acting style. In the course of the interview, he explains how other actors can develop it and improve their acting style.

Nicolas Cage is a known animal lover. He explained that his pets influenced his acting.  When asked about it he responds, “The cobras, definitely. They would try to hypnotize you by going side to side, and when I did Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, that’s something my character does before he attacks. Animals are fun places to get inspiration. Actually, I thought Heath Ledger was doing some reptilian stuff as the Joker, with the tongue darting out all the time.”

Nicolas Cage Matteo Chinellato /

While Nicolas Cage has developed his own acting style as an actor, he suggests that it isn’t always about what he wants to project. He explains, “As a film actor, my job is to facilitate the director’s vision. If there’s something I’m doing that they don’t agree with, I drop it.”

Nicolas Cage referred to his acting style as “nouveau shamanic.” When asked if he still thinks about his acting, Cage says, “Laurence Olivier said, ‘What is acting but lying, and what is good lying but convincing lying?’ I don’t want to look at acting that way. Why not experiment?… Nouveau shamanic is nothing other than trying to augment your imagination to get to the performance without feeling like you’re faking it.”

That said, Cage later said that “Nouveau shamanic” is not something that can be taught. However, it can be discovered. He says, “You either have the proclivity to open up your imagination or you don’t. If you have that propensity and are on camera about to do a scene, what would make you believe in what you’re about to do? Say you’re playing a demon biker with an ancient spirit. What power objects could you find that might trick your imagination? Would you find an antique from an ancient pyramid? Maybe a little sarcophagus that’s a greenish color and looks like King Tut? Would you sew that into your jacket and know that it’s right next to you when the director says ‘action?’ Could you open yourself to that power?”

Cage offers another way to tap into his acting style, saying, “There are other ways. What is a poem that you like? You could take that poem and write it out by hand on paper, then fold it up and put it in your pocket. The trigger doesn’t have to be something that’s extraordinarily expensive.”