Nicolas Cage says he paid off debts by starring in straight-to-VOD films: ‘I was caring’

The 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' star became debt-free nearly two years ago

Nicolas Cage has zero regrets about becoming the face of straight-to-VOD action movies.

It was 2014 when the actor, one of the top blockbuster stars of the ‘90s, experienced a string of box office flops with films like "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance."

It wasn’t long after when reports piled up, alleging that the star, born into the Coppola film dynasty, blew his $150 million fortune and owed the IRS $6.3 million in property taxes, resulting in him taking every role that came his way just to get out of debt.

The 58-year-old, who acknowledged taking on several VOD films in recent years, is now setting the record straight.


Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage attends the premiere of ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festival - Day 2 at the Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"I’ve got all these creditors and the IRS and I’m spending $20,000 a month trying to keep my mother out of a mental institution, and I can’t," Cage recently recalled to GQ magazine. "It was just all happening at once."

Cage said many people in his life advised him to consider filing for bankruptcy. However, he refused to do so. Determined to slay his bills a different way, the Oscar winner found himself appearing in numerous VOD movies. However, Cage stressed that he never took on roles he didn’t believe in, even if those parts did help him avoid bankruptcy.

"When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all," Cage explained to the outlet. "They didn’t work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like ‘Mandy,’ but some of them didn’t work. But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring."

According to the outlet, Cage "finished paying off all his debts" a year and a half ago after signing on to appear in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." The film, where Cage stars as a fictionalized version of himself, received raved reviews at the recent SXSW Film Festival.


Nicolas Cage

Jerry Bruckheimer, producer, and Nicolas Cage during the ‘National Treasure’ Seoul press conference at Seoul Shilla Hotel in South Korea.  (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/WireImage / Getty Images)

Cage acknowledged that had to take on VOD films because "the phone stopped ringing" with offers from the studios.

"It was like, ‘What do you mean we’re not doing ‘National Treasure 3?’ It’s been 14 years. Why not?’" Cage recalled. "Well, ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ didn’t work, and ‘Ghost Rider’ didn’t really sell tickets. And ‘Drive Angry,’ that just came and went."

Still, Cage shared he’s been thrilled taking on more indie films.

"I enjoy making movies like ‘Pig’ and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ more than I enjoy making movies like ‘National Treasure,’" he said. "When I talk about fair-weather friends in Hollywood, I’m not talking about [‘National Treasure’ producer] Jerry Bruckheimer. I’m talking about Disney. They’re like an ocean liner. Once they go in a certain direction, you’ve got to get a million tugboats to try and swivel it back around."


Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage accepts the Best Actor Award for ‘Pig’ onstage during the 5th Annual HCA Film Awards at Avalon Hollywood & Bardot on February 28, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Back in July 2021, Cage told Variety that Hollywood’s commercial constraints made him wonder if he would ever want to go back.

"I do feel that I’ve gone into my own wilderness and that I’ve left the small town that is Hollywood," Cage said at the time. "… As for me, I don’t know if I’d want to go back. I don’t know if I’d want to go and make another Disney movie. It would be terrifying. It’s a whole different climate. There’s a lot of fear there."

"When I was making Jerry Bruckheimer movies back-to-back, that was just a high-pressure game," he continued. "There were a lot of fun moments, but at the same time, there was also ‘We wrote this line. It has to be said this way.’ They’d put a camera on you and photograph you, and order you: ‘Now say the roller skate training wheels line.’ I’d say, ‘I’ll do that but I’d also like to try it this way.’  In independent movies, you have more freedom to experiment and be fluid. There’s less pressure and there’s more oxygen in the room."