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Not much rattling Nicolas Cage these days

  • Story Highlights
  • Nicolas Cage voices character of Speckles the mole in "G-Force"
  • Disney's "G-Force" opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, July 24
  • "I like movies where you feel like you're going into another world," Cage says
By Andrea Mineo
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage has pretty much got this acting thing down. After all, he started acting at the age of 15 and, well, he's got that Oscar.

Nicolas Cage says that Academy Awards are "not as important as children and making them happy."

Nicolas Cage says that Academy Awards are "not as important as children and making them happy."

So he doesn't really need to deliver another gut-wrenching performance to demonstrate his chops. In fact, he can deviate from a traditional film and venture into animated territory.

He's voiced animated characters in the past, but in Disney's new 3-D tale "G-Force," Cage lends his voice to a mole.

Speckles the star-nosed mole comes to life thanks to the film's impressive digital animation and Cage's voice. At first it's unclear that Cage is the voice behind Speckles, because he changes his sound for the critter, er, character.

CNN talked to Cage about playing a mole, animated films and his taking walks in the forest. The following is an edited version of that interview:

CNN: What do you play in this film?

Nicolas Cage: I'm playing Speckles, the mole, and he's an outsider. He's an iconoclast -- he doesn't fit in. He doesn't get into the fray with the "G-Force," the other guinea pigs. But his IQ is off the charts, and he's a technological wizard.

CNN: So, you're an Academy Award-winning actor, and you decided to play (this role). How did this come about?

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Cage: To me, nothing's more sacred than the magical world of children, and with everything that's going on in the world, it gets increasingly more challenging to keep our kids smiling -- people are losing their jobs, families are tense.

So anything I can do to give families something to look forward to and to put a smile back on children's faces -- I'm gonna do.

Disney has a great tradition of enchanting children and giving them something to behold. I mean, you mention Academy Awards -- I mean, that's not as important as children and making them happy.

CNN: Tell me about your voice: Why did you decide to really change it when you read the script?

Cage: Mel Blanc is a hero because of what he could do with his voice for all the Looney Tunes, the Warner Brothers cartoons, to be the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig. To me, he's a great actor.

I mean, one of the great character actors, and I knew that if I was gonna be in this movie, I'd want to do something like that and transform my voice.

CNN: So you're clearly comfortable playing a mole?

Cage: I'm comfortable with the mole, yeah. I mean, yeah, he's different, he's got issues, you know? I don't want a perfect character, I want a character who has, as strange as it sounds, some humanity, some flaws, some needs. But to be fair, I'm not in a lot of this movie. This is Darwin's movie, um Sam Rockwell and Penelope Cruz's movie -- they're the stars. I'm only in it at the beginning and the end.

CNN : You seem to be a big fan of animated films.

Cage: I do enjoy animated movies. I really love anime and movies like "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle." I like movies where you feel like you're going into another world, and no matter how many times you watch it, you're gonna see something new in that world. That level of detail really inspires me.

CNN: Is there less pressure doing an animated film and lending your voice to a character as opposed to a traditional film?

Cage: Well, you don't have the pressure of the camera. And that's -- that's very liberating. And you don't have the pressure of other actors trying to remember their dialogue or not being in rhythm with you.

The challenge though is, these movies take years to make, and I may not be in the same state of mind I was in a year ago or two years ago, and then they tend to pull you out of wherever you are and put you back in a box, and then try to get the voice out of you again, so that's the rub.

CNN: Have you gotten pretty good at honing your skills when it comes to choosing roles, or is it always a risk?

Cage: I mean it is always a gamble. You never know what's gonna happen with a movie. But I think it's more of a matter of, am I doing something that I believe in on any level? Like, am I going to entertain children, or am I going to make a movie that I can stand by because it means well on some level? That's becoming more and more a part of the criteria.

CNN: How do you think you've changed as an actor throughout your career?

Cage: I think I've become more relaxed. I don't feel the need to jump up and down and make a big noise to get people to pay attention to me. I don't need to um, you know, do punk rock gestures or eat a cockroach or do something weird to say I exist.

I feel like I'm hearing a different kind of sound now. It's a much more subtle sound, but it's still a truthful sound, that I can express myself in, in roles that are much more relaxed and seasoned as opposed to boisterous and rock and roll.

CNN: What's inspiring to you, in every day.

Cage: Well, I find children inspiring. The way they look at the world. The magical world they live in, to me, is inspiring. I like -- I mean, I'm afraid I'm gonna answer your questions and sound like a complete nature addict here, but uh, I like nature, I enjoy going for walks, I like the ocean, I like the forest.

CNN: Is that what you do when you're not working, that's important to you in your life?

Cage: Yes. Yes, I like to go for walks in the forest.

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