Nicolas Cage’s 8 Craziest Performances

Tipping our hat to a true Hollywood wild man.

Nicolas Cage is crazy – or at least he seems like he might be, based on his movie roles. The actor has played every possible variation of batshit nuts, which is one of the reasons we love him so much. He’s got a new movie, Joe, out April 11, and in honor of Cage’s impressive portfolio of roles, here are eight of his craziest.

Face/Off (1997)

First of all, this is a movie about Nicolas Cage and John Travolta swapping faces. Like, their actual faces. So you know immediately it’s going to be bananas. But then add to the mix that Cage is playing a terrorist named Castor Troy who is an evil lunatic. His wide-eyed grin is one of the more terrifying incarnations of the patented Nic Cage crazy face, and also one of the best.

National Treasure (2004)

It’s probably not Cage’s fault that this movie has become the butt of so many jokes, but its ludicrous storyline – which finds the actor playing an amateur cryptologist – is hard to take seriously. Its hilarity owes to Cage’s efforts to play it serious while claiming there’s a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. It’s proof that he is willing to sincerely act his way through any questionable scenario in the name of making a movie. The craziest part of this one may be that he actually signed on for the sequel.

The Rock (1996)

Way before Michael Bay was transforming Transformers for the big screen, he was directing this amazing action movie starring Nicolas Cage as a chemical weapons specialist named Dr. Stanley Goodspeed. He’s meek at first, but eventually transforms into a reluctant action hero who – spoiler alert – saves the world from some terrorists. At one point during the climax of the movie, he stabs himself in the heart with a giant syringe, proving that no matter what the role calls for, Cage will always find a way to incorporate a little something maniacal. (Also, best line ever: “What do you say we cut the chit-chat, A-hole!”)

Kick-Ass (2010)

Cage played a different kind of crazy in violent superhero flick Kick-Ass – the normal kind. Seeing a guy who is usually a complete nut play the role of a well-intentioned father who goes by the name of Big Daddy was unsettling in its own way. In the film, he teaches his daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) how to fight by shooting her in the chest. Father of the year, if you ask us.

The Wicker Man (2006)

This movie was really weird and didn’t make a ton of sense, but watching Cage punch a woman in the face while dressed in a bear suit will go down in cinema history. It’s one of those moments that would be awful in the hands of any other actor, but with our boy Nic it’s just, “Oh, there’s Nicolas Cage in a bear suit punching a lady. No big deal.” Also good: Cage screaming, “No, not the bees!” while bees are poured into a cage around his head.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Who is Nicolas Cage’s agent and how is he or she vetting these roles? In this Disney flick Cage played a sorcerer named Balthazar Blake who is an apprentice to Merlin. The character time travels to NYC where he helps a college kid save the world from evil. Or something like that. Cage rocks some stringy, long hair and a very low, important voice. He just throws around “plasma bolts” like it’s no big deal. Side note: Just in case you forgot, Nicolas Cage is an Oscar-winning actor.

Ghost Rider (2007)

Cage played Johnny Blaze in two movies, embracing a character who is a motorcycle-riding superhero with a flaming skull for a head. You might think, “But how can Cage bug out his eyes and emote wildly if his face is CGI?” Well, luckily, it was only used in the action sequences, so there’s plenty of time for the actor to make crazy faces and take everything way too seriously. Bonus: In the sequel, he gets to deadpan lines like, “It doesn’t matter how far you run, there are some demons you just can’t escape.”

G-Force (2009)

This half-animated movie about specially trained guinea pigs gets an honorary mention, because even though Cage only voices a character, he still infuses the movie with that special something. In G-Force, Cage lends his voice to a mole named Speckles, with a bizarrely high-pitched tone that he apparently uses in real life, too. As he told MTV, “The voice was what I call my frustrated, stressed voice. This is a voice that I sometimes resort to if I’m feeling just that. And it’s an octave or two higher than my normal voice – this way I don’t resort to profanity or yelling.” We’ll be sure to try that, thanks.