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Nicolas Cage in "Snake Eyes"

De Palma, Cage gambling on thriller 'Snake Eyes'

Web posted on: Thursday, August 06, 1998 4:12:16 PM

From Correspondent Dennis Michael

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- Brian De Palma and Nicolas Cage are hoping for a lucky roll.

The director and actor's latest creation is the suspense thriller "Snake Eyes," in which a corrupt cop and 20,000 other people at a boxing match become witnesses to a murder.

Clip - "Shut down the arena:"
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Entire trailer:
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Problem is, no one knows who the murderer is. It's up to Cage's character to figure it out.

Cage is no novice actor -- he's played roles as diverse as the grudge-filled Italian-American suitor to Cher in "Moonstruck," the quintuplet-kidnapping ex-con in "Raising Arizona," and an alcoholic determined to die in "Leaving Las Vegas," for which he won an Academy Award. Even so, he says the intricacies in this new character made him a challenge to play.

In the film, security monitors are sprinkled throughout the arena

'This man's a louse'

"He isn't necessarily what he seems to be," Cage says. "You can point the finger and say, 'This man's a louse.' He's a cop, he's on the take, he's a corrupt cop. He's got a dubious style of dressing. He's arrogant, prideful. He doesn't seem to be the guy you expect to do the right thing in a jam."

But Cage's character does turn out to be the good guy.

"The anti-hero to me is always more interesting, to some extent -- the guy who you least expect to rise to the occasion," says Cage.

Carla Gugino has a supporting role as a woman with a blood-stained dress

Real time

The movie's time frame is two hours -- meaning it's shot in real time, a challenge for De Palma, who has plenty of experience with movies like "Mission: Impossible," "The Untouchables," and "Scarface."

The first 25 minutes of the film are one continuous shot, according to Cage.

"You have to have very good actors, so that they can hit marks and walk and talk and do all kinds of things while the camera is whizzing around them," De Palma says. "You have to go into an arena and pick up another 20,000 extras and integrate them into the shot. It's tricky, and there were times I looked over to my unit and asked, 'Have we bitten off more than we can chew here?'"

So much depends on the element of surprise in "Snake Eyes" that Cage is at a loss for words when talking about it.

"You don't want to give too much away," he says. "It's important with a suspense thriller for it to be suspenseful. If I talk too much about it, there's not too much suspense. So there you go."

In other words, buy your popcorn before the movie starts.

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