Bearded, besuited and wearing a bold pair of mirrored sunglasses, Nicolas Cage swept into the Shanghai International Film Festival over the weekend to tease his latest movie and walk the event’s red carpet as a special guest.
Appearing at a small media briefing before the festival’s opening ceremony, Hollywood’s hardest-working actor met the Chinese press and credited the local audience for the endurance of his film career (he’s appeared in over 80 films).
“I’ve been very blessed to have extremely loyal fans in China and thank you for that,” Cage said. “It’s primarily because of you that I’m able to continue to do what I love, which is make movies.”
Asked by the moderator to explain his personal philosophy of filmmaking, Cage said it boils down to his pursuit of what he calls “the Super 8 feeling.”
“The Super 8 feeling is what my brother and I used to feel when we made movies in the backyard with the camera our dad bought us when we were kids,” the actor explained. “I didn’t care about awards or money; it was simply because we loved making the movie and telling a story.”
Cage went on to explain that he’s experienced the Super 8 feeling just a few times in his professional life, such as when he shot Raising Arizona with the Cohen Brothers and during the filming of Mandy, Panos Cosmatos’ recent horror film, which premiered to positive reviews at Cannes in May (described by THR critic John DeFore as “half dread-soaked psychotropic horror film, half subhuman bloody revenge flick”).
The onetime Oscar winner said the Super 8 feeling was particularly potent during the recent shoot in Puerto Rico of his next release, Primal. The film is directed by stuntman- turned-filmmaker Nick Powell, with whom Cage previously collaborated on the 2014 U.S.-China co-production Outcast.
Cage brought some unfinished footage of Primal to show the Chinese audience. But first he offered this summary of its story:
“It’s a completely original concept and it’s totally wild. I loved the script the minute I read it. It’s the story of a big game hunter, but he’s not the kind of hunter who puts animals down. He captures wild exotic animals and he sells them to zoos. He’s trying to transport his animals to a zoo aboard a ship — I play this big game hunter — but low and behold, on the ship along with me is a mercenary killer, a highly trained, extremely dangerous man. He lets all my animals loose and then I’m caught between a rock and hard place, trying to get my animals back to safety, and not let the animals — specifically a white jaguar — kill the other people on the ship (she’s a man eater). And also I have to contend with this mercenary killer, so it’s complete madness and chaos.”
Before setting the footage rolling, Cage said he expects the film will be “very exciting in the grand tradition of adventure films.”
The clips from Primal featured an extended, semi-acrobatic knife fight between Cage and the mercenary villain (played by Kevin Durand). Other segments showed Cage wielding a blow gun, hunting bow or a cleverly devised rope trap.
Chinese fans will have to wait for a glimpse of the white jaguar, however — it’s apparently being added in post.