Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn were two of the most sought-after actors of the late 80s and 90s. The duo even worked together in movies like Racing with the Moon and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. However, as they found breakthroughs with major roles, their acting paths drifted apart.
Penn established himself as a serious actor with the much-acclaimed 1983 movie Bad Boys. A brief spell of struggle and drama followed, which also included a period where he got married and eventually separated from Madonna. However, he quickly found his way back by deciding to pursue movies that helped boost his acting potential rather than his bank account. This eventually led to two Academy Awards after the turn of the century.
Cage, meanwhile, went the other way, and starred in high-profile movies. At one point he was among the highest-paid actors in the industry. But his career choices attracted criticism from Penn.
What Oscar Winner Sean Penn Said About His Co-star Nicolas Cage
In the 90s, Nicolas Cage was perhaps Hollywood directors’ go-to man for action flicks. He starred in blockbusters like The Rock ($335.1 million at the box office), Gone in 60 Seconds ($237.2 million), and Con Air ($224 million).
The producers in the entertainment industry don’t shy away from rewarding actors who sell tickets. Cage was no different and at one point he commanded as much as $20 million per movie. Meanwhile, Sean Penn didn’t know what he would do with anything over $10 million.
“Don’t get me wrong, I would like to get paid, but I don’t know what you do with anything over $10 million. After that, it doesn’t make any sense to me,” Penn once told The New York Times.
The Mystic River star also took aim at his Fast Times at Ridgemont High co-star’s career choices. He said: “Nic Cage is no longer an actor. He could be again, but now he’s more like a… performer.”
When Cage was asked to respond to Penn’s criticism later, he shut down the prospect of any controversy by simply saying that was Penn’s opinion and that they’d left it all behind them (via The Total Film Interview).
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The 59-year-old, who these days is famous for voicing Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, has previously worked with legendary directors like David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola – a testament to how highly rated his acting talent was at the time.
Accordingly, apart from taking home big paychecks, Cage also collected an award or two during his heyday. In Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas, he played the character of Ben Sanderson, a screenwriter who lost everything because of alcoholism. For his brilliant performance opposite Elisabeth Shue, he won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1996. For the same movie, he also picked up a Golden Globe.
Cage was also nominated for the Academy Award in 2003 but lost to Adrien Brody. 12 months later, his former co-star Penn was honored with his first Oscar in a Leading Role for Mystic River.
Source: The New York Times