How Coppola Became Cage

Zach Schonfeld

How Coppola Became Cage

Zach Schonfeld






25 Apr 2023


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$66.95 AUD

$76.99 NZD


An in-depth look at one of the film industry's most audacious working actors

In 1982, a gangly teenager named Nicolas Coppola made his film debut and changed his name to Nicolas Cage, determined to distance himself from his famous family. Once he achieved stardom as the rebel hunk of 1983's Valley Girl, Cage began a career defined by unorthodox risks and left turns that put him at odds with the stars of the Brat Pack era. How Coppola Became Cage takes readers behind the scenes of the beloved cult movies that transformed this unknown actor into an eccentric and uncompromising screen icon with a wild-eyed gift for portraying weirdos, outsiders, criminals-and even a romantic capable of seducing Cher.

Author Zach Schonfeld traces Cage's rise through the world of independent cinema and chronicles the stories behind his career-making early performances, from the method masochism of Birdy to the operatic torment of Moonstruck and abrasive expressionism of Vampire's Kiss, culminating with the astonishing pathos of Leaving Las Vegas. Drawing on more than 100 new interviews with Cage's key collaborators--including David Lynch, Martha Coolidge, John Patrick Shanley, and Mike Figgis--How Coppola Became Cage offers a revealing portrait of Cage's wildly intense devotion to his performances behind the scenes and his creative self-discovery as he drew on influences as far-flung as silent cinema and German Expressionism. These were all crucial ingredients in the creation of a singular acting style that rejects the limits of realism.

Brimming with previously untold stories and insights, How Coppola Became Cage both revels in and demystifies Cage's onscreen eccentricities. No other modern actor has explored such profound creative extremes while bending the boundaries of good taste. Here is the origin story of an actor who truly is wild at heart and weird on top.


Introduction Chapter One: From Coppola to Cage Chapter Two: Punk Romeo Chapter Three: Pulling Teeth Chapter Four: Uncle Francis Chapter Five: Baby Fever Chapter Six: A Nick at the Opera Chapter Seven: Kiss Me Deadly Chapter Eight: Cage and the Curious Case of the Big Rubber Nose Chapter Nine: Goofing on Elvis Chapter Ten: The Sunshine Trilogy Chapter Eleven: Drunk in Love Epilogue Index


Zach Schonfeld , Journalist, UNITED STATES

Zach Schonfeld is a freelance writer, journalist, and critic based in New York. He contributes to Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, and other publications. He was formerly a senior writer for Newsweek, where he was on staff for five years. His first book, 24-Carat Black's Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth was published in 2020 as part of the 33 1/3 series.


"Delightful." -- The Wall Street Journal

"A must-read for both Cage obsessives and agnostics: this is a fascinating, consistently bizarre, thoroughly entertaining early-years portrait of a true Hollywood original." -- Empire, 5*

"Thorough, considered and entertainingly written." -- James Mottram, Total Film, 4*

"Zach Schonfeld's compulsively readable, well-researched book on Nicolas Cage, How Coppola Became Cage, gets to the heart of the unique, multitalented actor." -- PopMatters

"A lively, anecdote-filled look into the actor's shape-shifting, storied career. Even the most ardent Cage fans will learn something new." -- Publishers Weekly

"Fascinating details and entertaining provocative backstories make this an important, captivating read for Cage fans and cinephiles alike." -- Library Journal

"I learned so much from Zach's deep, deep dive into Cage's foundational years and how he came to be the experimental Hollywood A-lister we know today. Zach's thoroughness is remarkable." -- Lindsay Gibb, author of National Treasure: Nicolas Cage

"Before Nicolas Cage was a national treasure, he was Nicky Coppola, an eccentric young actor trying to break out from the long shadow of his family name. In this thorough look at Cage's seldom documented early years, Zach Schonfeld draws on original interviews with siblings, classmates, and colleagues to chronicle his journey from high school theater kid to Valley Girl heartthrob to household name. A must read for Cage fans." -- Dan Ozzi, author of SELLOUT

"Charting an authoritative middle path between scholar and superfan, Schonfeld breaks down the life and works of a beguiling figure with a careful balance of critical rigor and curious open-mindedness. His writing is exhaustively researched and inexhaustibly entertaining, as singularly committed to its project as Cage himself." -- Charles Bramesco, author of Colors of Film: The Story of Cinema in 50 Palettes

"Meticulously researched...Kudos to Schonfeld for such a compelling work. Like Nick's back catalogue, this is one to revisit time and again." -- Roger Crow, On: Yorkshire

"A detailed documentation of the wonderfully weird and heavily memeified actor's career up until the mid-90s. Full of fascinating behind the scenes anecdotes, it's a great insight into one of Hollywood's most eccentric and beloved stars." -- Amber Bryce, Euronews