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Nicolas Cage in Talks to Star as Nicolas Cage in Meta Drama 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' (Exclusive)

Lionsgate pushed aside several suitors and is in final negotiations to pick up the meta movie project that references 'Leaving Las Vegas,' 'Face/Off' and more.
Nicolas Cage (left), Nicolas Cage   |   Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Robert Marquardt/Getty Images
Lionsgate pushed aside several suitors and is in final negotiations to pick up the meta movie project that references 'Leaving Las Vegas,' 'Face/Off' and more.

Nicolas Cage has spent the past several years knocking out one low-budget yarn after another, making disposable thrillers or interesting oddities, sometimes in the same year. Other than some occasional voice work, the last major studio release starring the actor was 2011's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, based on the Marvel character.

But now Cage could be back (not that he ever went away) in a big way as he finds himself in the center of a hot deal for a project in which he would play one of the most iconic characters in Hollywood: Nicolas Cage himself.

Beating out several suitors such as HBO Max and Paramount, Lionsgate is in final negotiations to pick up The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (can there be anything more Cage-like?), The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The meta movie project has a script by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, with Gormican attached to direct.

If the deals close, Cage would star as actor Nicolas Cage. The character is desperate to get a role in a new Quentin Tarantino movie while also dealing with a strained relationship with his teenage daughter. He also occasionally talks to an egotistical 1990s version of himself who rides him for making too many crappy movies and for not being a star anymore.

The Cage character is also under a mountain of debt and finds himself forced to make an appearance at the birthday party of a Mexican billionaire who happens to be a fan of the actor's work and secretly hopes to show him a script on which he's been working.

While he bonds with the man, Cage is informed by the CIA that the billionaire is actually a drug cartel kingpin who has kidnapped the daughter of a Mexican presidential nominee and Cage is subsequently recruited by the U.S. government to get intelligence. The situation spirals even more dramatically when the billionaire brings over Cage's daughter and his ex-wife for a reconciliation, and when their lives are on the line, Cage takes on the role of a lifetime.

The story is meta and includes nods to Cage works such as Leaving Las Vegas, Face-Off and Gone in 60 Seconds, while the script that Cage and the billionaire are writing begins to mirror events in the storyline. The project has tones reminiscent of Adaptation, which starred Cage; Jean-Claude Van Damme's meta movie JCVD; and the John Travolta Hollywood caper Get Shorty, among others.

Kevin Turen, who produced the just-released drama Waves and was an executive producer on HBO's Euphoria, would produce with Cage and his Saturn Films banner, along with Mike Nilon.

The fact that there is even a spirited interest in Unbearable Weight is part Hollywood dream factory concoction since the script wasn't even supposed to be seen by buyers. Gormican wrote and directed the little-seen rom-com That Awkward Moment, which starred Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, and with Etten, created Ghosted, a comedy that ran for one season on Fox. The two were looking to shake things up in their careers and wrote Unbearable Weight as a sample script, hoping it would open additional doors. The script was sent around months ago, according to sources. Interest seemed to bubble up simultaneously when many began thinking that the script itself could be sellable and, mind blown, what if Cage himself did it?

According to sources, the script was shown to Cage along with a letter that Gormican wrote, pleading his case and saying how the piece was a love letter to the actor, not something that made fun of him. Cage was convinced and became attached in recent weeks.

The interest in the project was so high that sources say Cage is lining up to achieve a payday that would put him in the same range he was in when making such studio hits as Con Air and National Treasure.

Cage is repped by WME, Stride Management and attorney Patrick Knapp of Goodman Schenkman. Gormican is repped by WME, 3 Arts Entertainment and Michael Schenkman of Goodman Schenkman. Etten is repped by UTA and 3 Arts.

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