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Cage takes risky role in 'Eight Millimeter'

Web posted on:
Thursday, February 25, 1999 3:55:55 PM EST

From Paul Vercammen
CNN Showbiz Today Correspondent

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- The new movie "Eight Millimeter," which releases at theaters nationwide this weekend, won't be described as fun for the whole family -- unless you're talking about the Manson family. This new Nicolas Cage film deals with deviant violence and sexual behavior of a most controversial nature.

Director Joel Schumacher, whose credits include "Batman & Robin," "Batman Forever" and "A Time to Kill," toned down the film rather than risk an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

"You know we had to cut down some of the violence, and we had to cut down some of the aberrent sexuality," says Schumacher. "But I think it worked to the advantage of the film anyway -- I had to take you there, to that place. So it was better to have to cut back from that place than to never have taken you there at all."

The movie takes Cage and co-star Joaquin Phoenix into the darkest depths of the violent pornography business, after Cage's character -- a detective who up until now, specialized in tailing husbands having affairs -- is hired to trace the origin of an 8mm film depicting a girl's apparent murder, a so-called "snuff film."

It wasn't an easy role to play, Cage says: "It's tough to be in a situation where you constantly have to trick your mind into thinking you are really there so you give a truthful performance."

Cage with Joaquin Phoenix (left)

'Not going to say snuff films exist'

"I'm not going to say snuff films exist," he adds. "I'm not going to say they don't. I don't know. But I do know that there are people in America who are capable of doing such a horrible thing."

When asked how Schumacher would react to a viewer who said he had pushed the envelope too far, he answered, "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I would say, 'Yours is right for you, not for me. It's out there -- why not expose it?'"

Schumacher hooked up with Cage, Hollywood's everyman, when another movie project collapsed. Cage was to have starred as Superman in a new film, but the actor says the deal "fell down."

"Joel and I had been talking over the years about working together," he adds. "Way before anything really happened with me, he was interested in meeting with me."

So they met and showed a world where unsuspecting runaways can be seduced into horrifying acts. "It's actually a very moral film," says Schumacher. "It's the same as a private detective going into the world of crack cocaine, white slavery or terrorism." "It's risky," agrees Cage. "I don't know how it will be received. But again, I sort of live on that edge."

Cage's reputation for gambling with roles is only enhanced by "Eight Millimeter."

Cage to earn $20 million for latest gig
February 1, 1999
De Palma, Cage gambling on thriller 'Snake Eyes'
August 6, 1998
Holy batcapers! Director lures big names to sinister roles
June 21, 1997
Batman & Robin: The franchise fadeth
July 2, 1997

Official 'Eight Millimeter' site
Sony Pictures Entertainment Movies
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