For forty years the HFPA has audio-taped celebrated actors and actresses. The world's largest collection of its kind is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To veteran stars, our HFPA journalists are family; they banter with them and speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry.
Acting with Jimmy Caan is formidable. He's very unpredictable, and has a totally different approach than I have. He likes to be intentionally unprepared, so that things happen accidentally. I like to have an idea of where I'm going and mix it up with a little spontaneity. He would constantly try to get some sort of shock out of me.
In one scene in Honeymoon in Las Vegas, for example, he surprised me by pulling a switchblade. Now, if I were nineteen, and hadn't been doing this for eleven years, it might have been helpful, but I didn't need that. I can get there on my own, in my own time. It's what I get paid for.
So I said, "Jimmy, that's great. Thanks, but you know, it's all right. You don't need to pull a switchblade out on me. Our approaches are different, that's all."
After I'd say my lines, he'd stop and say, "Nicolas, if you ever come unprepared again, we're all going to go home and forget about work." But when I look at the movie, I'd have to say the balance is pretty good.
I have been acting since I was sixteen. At that age people can say things that aren't very nice. I just decided I didn't need the pressure so I changed my name from Coppola to Cage. Other young actors, I suppose, felt that I couldn't act because I was related to such a powerful director. I had a lot of proving to do.
I had to feel I was my own man, but I was very young. I would walk into casting offices, and they wanted to know what Francis was doing. I was prepared for my audition, but all they wanted to do was talk about my uncle.
After I changed my name, the first movie I auditioned for was Valley Girl, and I got the part. And I didn't have to talk about him. At the time I really needed to do things apart from family, to prove I was an entity unto myself and not just part of the Coppola dynasty.
------Researched and edited by Jack Tewkesbury