Every Nicolas Cage Role Referenced In ‘The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent’


The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent is jam-packed with references to Nicolas Cage movies all the way from the 1980s to 2020. Some of them are directly referenced throughout the film, and some are Easter eggs put in for the Nic Cage super fans to spot.

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The film stars Cage playing a fictionalized version of himself. Cage’s character struggles with the anxiety and pressure of his career while also struggling to connect with his 16-year-old daughter. In a final attempt to make some money to pay off his debts, Cage accepts a $1 million offer from billionaire and superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal) to attend his birthday party in Mallorca. The two quickly become close friends, but Nick is told that there might be more to his new friend than meets the eye.

‘Leaving Las Vegas’ (1995)“Is this the home of an angel?”

Leaving Las Vegas stars Cage as Ben Sanderson, a depressed, alcoholic screenplay writer who goes to Las Vegas with the intent to drink himself to death but instead falls in love with Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue.

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The almost shot-for-shot reference to Cage’s role in the film occurs when Nick first arrives at Javi’s home in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent. He sits poolside when Javi, Gabriella, and Lucus start talking to him about his career. Nick, feeling defeated, walks to the edge of the pool and sinks to the bottom while drinking a beer, and Havi jumps in to pull him out. Cage won an Oscar for that role in 1996, making it a highlight of his career. Referencing it while he’s at his lowest point in this movie was very intentional, says the director, Tom Gormican.


‘Face/Off’ (1997) — “Plan B, let’s just kill each other”

The 1997 movie is referenced several times throughout Unbearable Weight. Both Martin and Javi have an affinity for Face/Off, with Javi even saying it’s his favorite film of all time. Later in Unbearable Weight, Javi reveals his life-sized wax figure of Castor Troy, Cage’s Face/Off character. The figure is “grotesque,” according to Cage, but the famous gold guns that it holds are an essential part of the movie.

Face/Off also stars John Travolta, whose character will stop at nothing to catch Castor Troy. The two try to kill each other, essentially like Javi and Nick think they have to do in Unbearable Weight. Another reference for Face/Off fans makes its way in towards the end of the film. When Nick grabs the knife to stab and twist it into the leg of Lucus (the film’s antagonist), it is precisely what happens in Face/Off.

‘The Croods: A New Age’ (2020) — “Follow the light, and you’ll find your tomorrow.”

The Croods 2 boasts a star-studded cast, including Cage playing the family’s father and Emma Stone playing his daughter, as Nick brags about in Unbearable Weight. It’s one of the few animated films starring Cage, about the world’s first family, The Croods.

This movie was referenced by name in Unbearable Weight. When CIA agent Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) first encounters Nick as he lands in Spain, she runs up to him and acts like she’s a huge fan so she can put a tracker on him. She brings up watching Croods 2 recently with her nephew and how good he was in the movie.

‘Moonstruck’ (1987) — “Snap out of it!”

Cage and Cher played charismatic love interests who carry on a secret romance in this 1987 romantic comedy. Loretta (Cher) is engaged to the brother of Ronny (Cage), but she doesn’t love him and instead finds herself falling for Ronny. Cher won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in the film.

Moonstruck is directly referenced by Vivian in Massive Talent. She mentions the film when she and Marcus are naming Nicolas Cage movies. The film is given another shout-out when the wooden hand Ronny wears in Moonstruck is spotted in Javi’s shrine room.

‘Guarding Tess’ (1994) — “Get in the damn chair.”

Nicolas Cage plays the role of Doug in Guarding Tess, a Secret Service agent assigned to protect Tess (Shirley MacLain), the high-maintenance former first lady. Doug is irritated by her petty demands until Tess is kidnapped, and he realizes how much he cares.

Guarding Tess is explicitly mentioned by Javi because it is such an essential film to him. He tells everyone at his birthday party about his complicated relationship with his father and how they watched Guarding Tess together while his father was dying, bringing them closer together. Javi says that he felt like Doug, and his father was like Tess.

‘The Rock’ (1996) — “Cut the chit-chat.”

FBI chemical warfare expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is sent on a mission with former British spy John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) to stop chemical weapons on Alcatraz Island from being launched into San Francisco.

The Rock is first referenced when it’s playing on the airplane TV during Cage’s flight to meet Javi. It’s mentioned again when Lucus (Javi’s cousin, played by Paco Leon) says it to Cage when they first meet, asking him when he will make a movie like that again. It’s referenced one final time when Cage sees the glowing green chemical weapons from the film on display in Javi’s shrine.

‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ (2001) – “I tried to make myself believe I could live without you.”

Cage stars in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as Corelli, leader of the Italian invasion force that controls the Greek island, Cephalonia. He falls in love with the local doctor’s daughter, played by Penélope Cruz, even though she’s engaged.

Nick and Javi discuss this movie in Unbearable Weight when Javi asks him how he met his wife. Nick says they met when she was a makeup artist for Captain Corelli’s. Javi and Nick both agree that the film is underappreciated, a sentiment that Cage himself echoed in a real-life interview.

‘Con Air’ (1997) — “Make a move, and the bunny gets it.”

Con Air is about army ranger Cameron Poe (Cage) is put on parole and gets on a flight to return to his wife (Monica Potter) but is flying home with some of the worst criminals alive. Some passengers hatch a violent plan to escape mid-flight.

Unbearable Weight starts with a clip from Con Air. It’s being watched by Katrin Vankova, who plays Maria. She is watching in awe and talking about how good Nicolas Cage is when kidnapers break in. Fans who remember the iconic soundtrack to Con Air will also notice the movie’s Oscar-nominated song, “How Do I Live,” playing during the intense action scene. The film gets one more reference when the famous bunny from Con Air is spotted in the Cage shrine.

‘Raising Arizona’ (1987) — “Son, you got a panty on your head.”

Raising Arizona stars Cage and Holly Hunter as an unlikely pair who discover that they are infertile and go to extreme lengths to have a child. Cage’s character, H.I. McDunnough, steals a child from a set of quintuplets to raise his own, but the child’s wealthy father sends a bounty hunter after him.

The movie isn’t mentioned by name in Unbearable Weight, but a shelf can be spotted in Javi’s shrine with the diapers Cage’s character steals in Raising Arizona and the stocking mask he wears to steal them.

‘Mandy’ (2018) — “I’m going huntin’.”

Set in 1983, Mandy is about Red Miller (Nic Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough), a couple living peacefully in the Pacific Northwest. A cult brutally destroys their home with sadistic leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). This causes Red to begin a terrifying journey of bloody vengeance.

As Nick looks through Javi’s shrine, one item he is particularly impressed with is the chainsaw from the 2018 thriller Mandy. Both characters admire it and agree that the film was a masterpiece.

‘Wild At Heart’ (1990) — “I guess I started smokin’ when I was about four.”

Cage plays Sailor Ripley, a man who was just released from prison after serving time for a self-defense killing. When he reunites with his girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern), Lula’s mother, Marietta (Diane Ladd), is desperate to keep them apart. She hires a hitman to kill Sailor.

Wild At Heart is referenced not by name but by the character of Nicky, Cage’s alter-ego. Nicky wears a Wild At Heart t-shirt throughout the film, and, according to Cage, it is based on how he acted while promoting this film. Cage says that he was irreverent, arrogant, and obnoxious at the time, making it the perfect reference for a young version of himself who wants nothing more than to be a star.

‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ (2000) —”We’re gonna have to go old school on this.”

Cage plays Randall, a car thief who has to steal 50 luxury vehicles in one night to save his brother from a dangerous crime lord. Randall reassembles his old gang to complete the mission and avoid getting stopped by the police or a rival band of thieves.

Gone in 60 Seconds is referenced during Unbearable Weight’s hilarious acid scene. Nick and Javi are high and paranoid. As they try to escape from a random couple they think are watching them, Javi insists that Nick drives since he did all his driving stunts in 60 Seconds.

‘National Treasure’ (2004) — “I’m gonna steal the Declaration Of Independence.”

Historian and code-breaker Ben Gates (Cage) has been searching his whole life for a rumored treasure. He joins an expedition led by treasure hunter Ian Howe (Sean Bean), but when Howe betrays him, Gates has to beat him to the treasure.

The famous Nic Cage movie is heavily featured in Javi’s shrine. There is a framed National Treasure poster as soon as they walk in, and a copy of the screenplay is spotted. Javi mentions the movie again when Nick says he can’t run in the shoes Javi gave him. Javi insists that Nick can run faster than him, “even in subpar footwear,” since Cage does his running scenes, the fact that Javi learned from National Treasure‘s The Making of featurette.

‘Adaptation’ (2002) -“You are what you love, not what loves you.”

Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, a screenwriter struggling with feeling inadequate. He lives with his twin brother Donald, also played by Cage, much more wild and confident than Charlie. While attempting to adapt a book by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), his life becomes strangely intertwined with the book’s plot.

Adaption isn’t directly mentioned in the film, nor are any props spotted in Javi’s shrine. The reference comes from the plot of the movie itself. Nick and Javi struggle to write a screenplay that they find themselves living. Nicky could also reference Donald, as Cage plays both roles in Adaption and Unbearable Weight.

‘The Wicker Man’ (2006) — “Not the bees!”

Nicolas Cage plays a sheriff who travels to a secluded island to search for a missing girl. Once there, he discovers the secrets of the island’s residents, such as their strange sexual rituals and possibly even human sacrifice.

Cage sneaks in reference to The Wicker Man at the very end of the film when he’s talking about his massive tarantula belt buckle with this family. He says that his stylist suggested a bee-shaped buckle instead, which prompts the response of “Not the bees! Not the bees!”: a famous line from the somewhat infamous horror film.

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