His latest venture, the action thriller Stolen (out now on Blu-ray and DVD) reunites him with his Con Air director Simon West, so what better time to take a look back at six of his defining moments on the big screen, starting with a trip with David Lynch.
Sailor Ripley – Wild at Heart
“This is a snakeskin jacket. And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality.” This is the sartorial explanation offered up by the recently paroled, Elvis fetishist Sailor Ripley to girlfriend Lula Pace Fortune (Laura Dern) in David Lynch’s deliciously disturbing road trip odyssey from 1990. Like that line from the film, the role itself perfectly symbolised Cage’s own early eccentric screen persona.
Word is that Lynch wanted his young star for the lead as soon as he’d read Barry Gifford’s novel of the same name, and it’s easy to see why. Cage was a genuinely fearless performer back them, testing the boundaries of screen acting, with a vivaciousness and unpredictability which served this character perfectly.
In the film, Cage goes from smashing the brains in of a knife-wielding assailant, to serenading his true love with a song by his role model, and the audience are with him all the way. Throughout it all, the actor still manages to imbue Ripley with a doe-eyed sincerity which sits perfectly with that Lynchian mix of innocence and darkness.