Nicolas Cage in the 80s
Nicolas Cage was born on January 7, 1964, as Nicolas Kim Coppola, nephew of acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola. When Nicolas was only 15 years old, he approached his uncle to ask for a screen test, but the actor eventually decided to forgo any appearance of nepotism, so he changed his name and stepped back from his famous industry-connected family.
Nicolas was always a huge fan of superheroes and comic books, so he decided to take on the name of one of his favorite characters, Luke Cage, the superhero from Marvel Comics. As desired, most audience members had no idea he was a member of the Coppola family and he went on to carve out a slice of Hollywood success on his own acting merit.
Today, Nicolas Cage is an "A List" actor and he has been one for decades, but members of Generation X have fond memories of his prominent appearances in 80s movies...
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Nicolas Cage plays opposite Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. In this coming-of-age film, Cage plays the co-worker and trusted buddy to the main character (Reinhold). Fast Times was Cage's second film and here he is still credited as Nicolas Coppola.
This 80s movie is a Generation X staple, and it helped launch the careers of all of the stars named above, plus future Academy Award winners like Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards.
Valley Girl (1983)
In Valley Girl, Nicholas Cage is given a starring role. Here, he played opposite actress Deborah Foreman. The storyline is based on the classic Shakespearean love story of Romeo and Juliet. In this version of the classic tale, Foreman plays Julie, a girl from the valley, who meets Randy, a punk from the city.
Nicholas Cage plays Randy and two earn critical acclaim as they act out the parts of two people from totally different worlds who manage to stay together. Interestingly enough, it was Deborah Foreman who attracted most of the acclaim, but her star never caught fire while Cage went on to shine brightly.
Back in the '80s, the Valley Girl stereotype was a huge part of the culture. A "Valley Girl" was a fashionable and affluent teenage girl from the Valley in Southern California. She was vapid and self-centered, but not directly, intentionally mean. The characters Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dion (Stacey Dash) from Clueless are the perfect embodiment of valley girls, but the stereotype was first popularized in this 80s film.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
In Peggy Sue Got Married, Nicholas Cage co-stars opposite Kathleen Turner. In this film, Cage plays the role of Charlie Bodell, the cheating husband to Turner's character, Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue and Charlie were high school sweetheart's who only got married because Charlie knocked her up. On a high school reunion trip, Peggy Sue falls unconscious and wakes up 25 years earlier when she and Charlie were still just dating...
Under the direction of Cage's famous uncle, the film became a huge box office success, it received positive reviews from critics and it was nominated for three Academy Awards...at this point, Nicholas Cage was a bonafide star.
Incidentally, Peggy Sue Got Married also stars Cage's Academy Award-winning director cousin, Sofia Coppola, along with a then unknown Jim Carey and Catherine Hicks from the Child's Play franchise, and later known for 7th Heaven. It also featured one of the last appearances of classic film legend, Maureen O'Sullivan.
Further Success to Finish Out the 1980s
Nicholas Cage finished out the 1980s with massive success and critical acclaim in the Cohen Brother's film, Raising Arizona (1987), opposite Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, and John Goodman (one simply cannot have a proper Cohen Bros film without the presence of either of the aforementioned actors). Cage also starred in Moonstruck (1987), opposite Cher and Olympia Dukakis.
While Raising Arizona has gone on to be a cult classic, Moonstruck was a major critical and commercial success, winning both Cher and Dukakis Academy Awards and another award to John Patrick Shanley for Best Original Screenplay.
Nicholas Cage has been married four times, the first time to actress Patricia Arquette. He has also been married to Lisa Marie Presley and two other women outside of the industry. His last divorce was granted last year in 2019.
Cage is said to be one of the most charitable and generous stars in Hollywood, and despite minor legal and financial issues, he is known for his personable nature.
Eventually, Nicolas Cage won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and as mentioned above, he has gone on to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars. However, many of us will always remember when we first got to know him from his many appearances in 80s movies.