Nicolas Cage: 'I'm not going to blame gun violence that happens in America on movies'

The actor speaks to Kaleem Aftab about his decision to do violent movies and why he's not going to be in Kick-Ass 2

Nicolas Cage can’t seem to escape the debate over the link between movies and real life murders. In his new film, Scott Walker’s The Frozen Ground, Cage plays a detective pursing serial killer Robert Hansen, who over 12 years abducted and killed at least 17 women.

Hansen would fly his victims to the Alaskan wilderness where he would hunt them like prey. Featuring John Cusack as Hansen and Vanessa Hudgens as a teenage prostitute who escapes the killer’s clutches, The Frozen Ground is a gory account of the notorious crimes that feature photos of the real victims in the end credits.

The connection between violence in films and real-life atrocities has been a major topic of discussion in recent years, fuelled in part by the success of Quentin Tarantino’s brand of pop-violence. But when, as in The Frozen Ground, a film looks to reality for inspiration, there is rarely any controversy.

The trouble starts when murderers seem to take their inspiration from the movies. It’s a subject that Nicolas Cage inadvertently became embroiled in recently when Jim Carrey announced on Twitter that he would not be doing any publicity for Kick-Ass 2. Carrey wrote: “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence.’

Cage starred in the original Kick-Ass, Mathew Vaughn’s 2010 film, featuring graphic pop-violence that would make Quentin Tarantino cover his eyes, much of it committed by young teenagers. Cage plays a father who teaches his young daughter to be a masked vigilante replete with guns and costume. His character Big Daddy suffers a brutal death at the end of the film, and chatting in a London hotel he confirms that his decision not to return for the sequel has nothing to do with the levels of violence on-screen.

“Let me go on record to say I’m not in Kick-Ass 2,” he says, finally killing the internet rumours that he would be doing a cameo turn. “I didn’t want to go back simply because I said what I said with the role of Big Daddy, and the character died at the end of the movie. He’s not going to be a hologram in the movie.”

As for Carrey, Cage feels that his apprehension about the connection between movies and real life violence is misplaced. “Jim’s going to do what Jim’s going to do. That is his right and his business. But I’m not blaming the violence that happens in my country on movies. I’m not doing it.”

The 49-year-old actor uses Stanley Kubrick’s decision to withdraw A Clockwork Orange from British cinemas to back up his argument. “When A Clockwork Orange came out there was that whole thing with hooligans and Stanley Kubrick pulled the movie,” he says.

“I believe in freedom of speech and I’ll still rather live in a world where A Clockwork Orange exists then it doesn’t. I feel horrible about the gun violence and I feel it inside. I don’t think movies are the reason why this violence exists, I think it’s going to happen whether movies are there or not.”

There is plenty of violence on show in The Frozen Ground, but Cage’s character commits none of it. Indeed he plays against type, giving a sombre central turn as a dedicated policeman while Cusack gets to do crazy. The Oscar-winner wants his performance to pay tribute to the work of Detective Glenn Flothe, on whom Cage based his character Jack Halcombe.

“I interviewed Glenn and I read the book Butcher, Baker and I saw the work that went into what he did pursuing the killer and I view the man as a hero, a real one,” says Cage. “I didn’t take the job lightly. I wanted him to look good and I wanted to fit him into the format of the movie. I wasn’t going to do any more of my idiosyncratic performance style.”

In The Frozen Ground there is no danger of Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew being accused of trying to chew up the scenery. “The Frozen Ground gave me a chance to mix it up in terms of my presentation,” says Cage. 

“I just came off Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and that was sort of like a pop-art operatic performance, larger than life, what I would call a jazz acting thing. It was time to remind people that that is not all I can do and I actually can be quiet and cinéma vérité and be more into the minutiae of the performance.”

As for the violence in the film, the California native feels it’s important to remind audiences of the horrors that took place. He says, “Hopefully as a result of The Frozen Ground more and more people will be aware of the horrible things that happen to ladies all over the world and give them respect. This movie is a love letter to those victims.”

The Frozen Ground is out now

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada