Author Lindsay Gibb faces off against Nicolas Cage critics in new book
Defending the actor only made Gibb love him more.
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Lindsay Gibb didn’t set out to become a fierce defender of Nicolas Cage. It was only after a 2012 retrospective of the enigmatic actor’s films at the TIFF Bell Lightbox that the Toronto librarian and former editor of Broken Pencil magazine realized the depths of her fandom.
“I liked him a lot but I wasn’t as obsessed with him as I am now,” she recalls.
While most pop-culture aficionados are content simply sharing their enthusiasm with Facebook friends, Gibb turned her obsession into a book. National Treasure: Nicolas Cage is the latest in ECW Press’s Pop Classics series, a line of digestible essays that spotlight cultural touchstones such as Elvis Costello, Twin Peaks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the stripper schlockfest, Showgirls.
Except for perhaps Keanu Reeves, there is no contemporary actor who divides audiences and opinions — or inspired as many memes — as Cage. Beyond his eccentric off-screen life (purchasing saber-tooth tigers and dinosaur skulls, his Elvis obsession, whirlwind marriages), Gibb suggests Cage’s screen presence is so polarizing because he’s impossible to pigeonhole.
“From one movie to the next you don’t really know what to expect,” she says. “People have a certain kind of vision of him because they’ve seen him in a certain kind of movie, but then he’ll go ahead and do something like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
To prepare for National Treasure, Gibb watched all of Cage’s work — an impressive feat considering he’s appeared in more than 70 films. Inspired by the TIFF retrospective, Gibb, who calls Vampire’s Kiss and Wild at Heart among her favourites, began hosting a monthly Cage movie night in her condo’s theatre room. When she started writing the book, she knew she had to take a more critical approach. “I was trying to look at them through the eyes of, ‘What is he doing?’ I was looking for links between his movies, and trying to see what he was trying to do with his acting style,” she says. “He has this intensity, or bombastic style, where he gets hyper in the middle of a movie that is consistent throughout his films.”
In the introduction to the book, Gibb writes, “Having to constantly defend something you like can you love it more fiercely.” She dismisses critics who have an unwavering bias against Cage and his on-screen antics.
“There are definitely writers who have a certain take on him — he’s a second-rate actor that’s always going to chew the scenery,” she says. “People have their set opinions, and don’t let his performance influence their opinion. They’ve just decided he’s the worst. And then there are people like me. I’ll always find at least a nugget in his not-so-great films, and see something interesting.”