Nicolas Cage used real magic to prepare to be Ghost Rider. Really?

Contributed by
Dec 16, 2012

Nicolas Cage has a well-deserved reputation as a bit of an eccentric, but he's also a dedicated comic fan who wants to do right by the comics-inspired characters he plays. So when it came time to be Johnny Blaze and his fiery alter-ego Ghost Rider, Cage says he turned to a very ancient form of inspiration: magic.

In a lengthy web chat with Empire Online covering everything from his work in Leaving Las Vegas to Kick Ass, Cage responded to a fan question about how he prepared to play Blaze and his vengeful counterpart. His answer started in a pretty basic way:

"It was the first time that I played Ghost Rider. Blaze was easy; I knew he was a man who had been living with a curse for eight years of having his head light on fire, and the tone that would take," Cage said. "I compared him to a cop, or a paramedic who develops a dark sense of humour to cope with the horrors he has seen. But Blaze has also caused the horrors, so he's hiding out because he doesn't want to hurt anyone else."

Then things started to get a little odder when Cage started comparing actors to shamans.

"Ghost Rider was an entirely new experience, and he got me thinking about something I read in a book called The Way Of Wyrd by Brian Bates, and he also wrote a book called The Way Of The Actor," said Cage. "He put forth the concept that all actors, whether they know it or not, stem from thousands of years ago—pre-Christian times—when they were the medicine men or shamans of the village. And these shamans, who by today's standards would be considered psychotic, were actually going into flights of the imagination and locating answers to problems within the village. They would use masks or rocks or some sort of magical object that had power to it."

OK, so it's still not that weird as far as eccentric actors go, but then Cage finally gets down to the practical business of what he did to inhabit Ghost Rider.

"It occurred to me, because I was doing a character as far out of our reference point as the spirit of vengeance, I could use these techniques," said Cage. "I would paint my face with black and white make up to look like a Afro-Caribbean icon called Baron Samedi, or an Afro-New Orleans icon who is also called Baron Saturday. He is a spirit of death but he loves children; he's very lustful, so he's a conflict in forces. And I would put black contact lenses in my eyes so that you could see no white and no pupil, so I would look more like a skull or a white shark on attack.

"On my costume, my leather jacket, I would sew in ancient, thousands-of-years-old Egyptian relics, and gather bits of tourmaline and onyx and would stuff them in my pockets to gather these energies together and shock my imagination into believing that I was augmented in some way by them, or in contact with ancient ghosts. I would walk on the set looking like this, loaded with all these magical trinkets, and I wouldn't say a word to my co-stars or crew or directors. I saw the fear in their eyes, and it was like oxygen to a forest fire. I believed I was the Ghost Rider."

So, was that a typical day of work for a crew member on the set of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance? You show up, have your coffee, start setting up the cameras, and then Nicolas Cage wanders in with voodoo paint on his face and rocks and amulets in his pockets?

But hey, if that's what works for Cage, who are we to judge? You know, unless the movie tanks. Then it might be time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new method for acting and freaking all your co-workers out at the same time.

(via Empire Online)