Nicolas Cage has made his reputation playing off-beat characters in movies from Raising Arizona to Adaptation roles that have kept his profile cool even after he showed his muscle in big budget popcorn flicks. In fact, to hear him tell it, his most surprising choice to date may be his turn as a suburban hubby in Family Man.
"I was experimenting just being me and seeing if that would be interesting to watch," he says. "This is my most extreme character just a normal guy."
It\'s no surprise that Nicolas Kim Coppola, born in Long Beach, California, on January 7, 1964, ended up in show biz. His father, August, was dean of creative arts at San Francisco State University, and his mother was a former dancer. Aunt Talia Shire was Adrian to Sylvester Stallone\'s Rocky, and her son, Jason Schwartzman, made his mark in Rushmore. Two other cousins, Sophia and Roman, are directors, while brothers Chris and Mark are in film and radio, respectively. Uncle Francis Ford Coppola, of course, needs no introduction.
Though his father encouraged him to be a writer, Nic studied theatre at Beverly Hills High school and eventually dropped out to pursue a career in acting. However, most of his first film role a bit part in 1982\'s Fast Times At Ridegemont High, as Nicolas Coppola ended up on the cutting room floor.
It was then that he decided to change his stage moniker to Cage, the last name of an admired experimental musician and his favourite comic book superhero. "I wanted to make it on my own, not trade on my family name," he said at the time. Not long after, the name Nicolas Cage made it into lights when he debuted as a leading man in the 1983 cult classic Valley Girl.
His next film, Francis Ford Coppola\'s Rumble Fish, came in part due to his famous relation, but he would wait two more years before his role in Birdy got him noticed on his own merit. Peggy Sue Got Married and Raising Arizona made him a rising Hollywood star, then his role opposite Cher in 1987\'s Moonstruck earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Nic kicked off the Nineties with another much-talked-about role, that of an Elvis-loving ex-convict in Wild At Heart. After a pair of romantic comedies, including the highly-successful Honeymoon In Vegas (in which he found himself once again paying homage to The King), Nic earned rave reviews and an Oscar for his powerful portrayal of an alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas.
Switching gears after his Oscar win, he took on a series of action hero roles. But after seven years of blockbusters such as The Rock, Face/Off and ConAir, he returned to his quirky roots playing twins, no less in 2003\'s Adaptation, and picked up another Oscar nomination in the process.
"I never want to get calcified into one type of movie," he says. "Gone In 60 Seconds is the type of movie you go to in order not to think about anything Leaving Las Vegas is the type of movie that is closer to me in terms of my soul, where I want to examine questions about life that perturb or excite me." He adds: "I feel fortunate to be able to do both."
Meanwhile, in his personal life, Nicolas\' high-profile relationships are just as unpredictable as the actor himself. After proposing to actress Patricia Arquette on the day he met her in 1987, Nic recalls: "I said, \'Let me prove my love, put me on a quest of some kind\'." Three weeks later he was back, bearing her requests including a spray-painted "black" orchid and a JD Salinger autograph. Patricia opted to go back to her old boyfriend, however.
Eight years on, although they had seen each other only a handful of times in the interim, the actress called Nic and popped the question. Despite having attended the Oscars with actress Kristina Fulton the mother of his son Weston the week before, he said yes. The pair were married in April 1995, but lived separate lives for years. Then, in 2001, amid rumours he was dating Penelope Cruz, the two divorced for good.
His next romance was no less unusual. Already known for his spot-on Elvis Presley impressions, Nicolas hooked up with the legendary rocker\'s daughter, Lisa Marie, in May 2000. After a brief split one year into the romance, the two reunited and wed in Hawaii on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Elvis\' death. Suddenly, three months later, the newlyweds filed for divorce, calling it all "a big mistake".
In August 2004 the unpredictable actor took everyone by suprise when he tied the knot with sushi waitress Alice Kim in a private ceremony in northern California. The couple welcomed their first child together, son Kal-el, in October 2005.