2ND UPDATE: Days after withdrawing from the Millennium Films drama Trespass just two weeks before production, Nicolas Cage has had a change of heart. I’m told that Cage’s CAA reps have informed the production that Cage will star in the Joel Schumacher-directed movie, after all. He’s actually come full circle: after originally signing on to team with Nicole Kidman as a kidnapped married couple, Cage recently shifted and took the role of the head kidnapper. He’s returning in the husband role, insiders tell me. Millennium has pushed its start date from August 16 to August 30 anyway, but the entire production is breathing a cautious sigh of relief after Millennium was about to begin trying to recast. It wasn’t immediately clear why Cage changed his mind. I think that the uncertainty over which character to play, coupled with the arduous promotional campaign on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, left him fried. But dropping out of a movie so close to the start date is a lousy thing to do, particularly when he would be doing it to a financier he works with regularly (Avi Lerner has backed Wicker Man, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call–New Orleans and Drive Angry) and a director he has a relationship with from their previous collaboration 8MM. Cage had some time to think on his vacation in the Bahamas, and decided to do the right thing.
PREVIOUS UPDATE FROM LAST NIGHT: Insiders say that Nicolas Cage is not coming back. Millennium will forge ahead, intent on keeping its start date. That is pending the casting of a suitable replacement. Stay tuned.
EXCLUSIVE: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice star Nicolas Cage has pulled a disappearing act on Trespass, the Millennium Films drama that is just two weeks away from an August production start in Louisiana.
I’m told that Cage abruptly backed out of the film late last week and then left on vacation—apparently to the Bahamas. Will he change his mind? Was he just burnt out after working non-stop and then completing a global junket for Sorcerer’s Apprentice? I’m told nobody can reach him to find out. At the moment, Avi Lerner, who picked up the project after Overture Films dropped it, doesn’t know whether or not he has a movie.
Cage had been locked into a $7 million deal–but it was not pay or play yet—to costar with Nicole Kidman in the Schumacher-directed drama. She plays half of a married couple taken hostage by thieves looking for an easy payday. Cage at first was going to play the husband, but within the last two weeks he switched and instead decided to play the leader of the kidnappers. Millennium offered the husband role to Liev Schreiber (he hasn’t accepted yet).
While Cage could have a change of heart, Lerner is scrambling to to find an available star with a bag packed and the muscle to justify a $35 million budget. The alternative is to postpone or scrap the project, which would probably lead to a lawsuit.
Cage has been a steady performer for Lerner, starring in Wicker Man, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and the upcoming Drive Angry. Some feel that Cage may just be burned out from working on so many movies, and being the centerpiece of a long Disney movie launch campaign. He also has had the stress of paying $14 million in back taxes to the IRS, which might explain his prolific work pace.
But there are plenty of people on the production who will have problems of their own if a job they counted on falls through.
“It sucks for everybody who was planning to go to work on the picture,” said an insider.