Nicolas Cage: ‘AI is a nightmare to me. It’s inhumane’

Nicolas Cage is out promoting Dream Scenario, a new film from indie studio darling A24. He plays a “hapless family man” who starts showing up in strangers’ nightmares while they sleep. Problems ensue when the dreamers witness the man of their nightmares in real life. Julianne Nicholson and Michael Cera round out the cast so I’ll definitely give it a watch. While Dream Scenario has an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA (so promotion is kosher), Cage discussed his cameo in the Summer 2023 bomb, The Flash. Produced by Warner Bros and available to stream now on Max, The Flash is technically struck work that should not be discussed. I don’t think union leaders are about to give Cage a talking to, though, since he lays out in detail how his part was completely altered, without his knowledge, through the use of technology. He says it was done by CGI, not AI, but it’s still a pretty perfect illustration of what actors are fighting the studios against.

Nic’s cameo goes back to a Tim Burton Superman movie that was never made: The famed filmmaker [Tim Burton], whose ill-fated 1990s reboot Superman Lives starring Cage is one of Hollywood’s most notorious movies that were never made, criticized [Flash director] Andy Muschietti’s June release for including a sequence with Cage suited-up as the Man of Steel among the movie’s many multiverse cameos. “I’m in quiet revolt against all this,” Burton said in an interview with the British Film Institute. The Batman (1989) director also bemoaned the “misappropriation” of Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne, who appeared in a large role in The Flash alongside Ezra Miller’s title character.

Cage did film a new scene for The Flash: “First and foremost, I was on set,” Cage explained, clearing up speculation over whether his appearance as an alternate version of the Kryptonian Kal-El was simply recreated from Superman Lives costume test footage that has been disseminated online in recent years. “They did put a lot of time into building the suit … What I was supposed to do was literally just be standing in an alternate dimension, if you will, and witnessing the destruction of the universe. Kal-El was bearing witness [to] the end of a universe, and you can imagine with that short amount of time that I had, what that would mean in terms of what I can convey. I had no dialogue [so had to] convey with my eyes the emotion. So that’s what I did. I was on set for maybe three hours.”

Along came a spider: “When I went to the picture, it was me fighting a giant spider. I did not do that. That was not what I did. I don’t think it was [created by] AI. I know Tim is upset about AI, as I am. It was CGI, OK, so that they could de-age me, and I’m fighting a spider. I didn’t do any of that, so I don’t know what happened there. … But I get where Tim’s coming from. I know what he means. I would be very unhappy if people were taking my art … and appropriating them. I get it. I mean, I’m with him in that regard. AI is a nightmare to me. It’s inhumane. You can’t get more inhumane than artificial intelligence. But I don’t think it [was] AI [in The Flash]. I just think that they did something with it, and again, it’s out of my control. I literally went to shoot a scene for maybe an hour in the suit, looking at the destruction of a universe and trying to convey the feelings of loss and sadness and terror in my eyes. That’s all I did.”

A sweet shout out to the costume designer: Cage was happy, however, that The Flash featured Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood’s Superman suit that she created for Burton’s never-realized film. “I do feel that the movie gave that beautiful suit that Colleen Atwood designed a chance to be seen, and I was happy about that because she put a heck of a lot of thought into that series,” he says.

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

I love that he makes the effort to highlight Colleen Atwood. She’s a frequent collaborator with Tim Burton, and has been nominated for the Best Costume Design Oscar 12 times with four wins for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Alice in Wonderland, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yay for celebrating creatives behind the scenes!

I stand by my earlier statement that Cage paints a clear picture of why actors want to secure protections against AI from the studios. He found himself acting in a scene he never even performed, let alone agreed to. That being said, I can barely get past how he sounds totally stoned when describing the scenes. I’m not saying he is! It’s just the genre of the film that lends itself to that. Still, I had to chuckle. “I was supposed to be in an alternate dimension staring at the destruction of the universe — and convey that with MY EYES — but instead I was fighting a giant spider!” And yet that barely scratches the surface of bonkers on the Cage spectrum. On a completely different note, I feel compelled to include here that Cage named his second son Kal-El.

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4 Responses to “Nicolas Cage: ‘AI is a nightmare to me. It’s inhumane’”

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  1. Joanna23 says:

    With all this AI stuff in cinema, I actually have renewed hope for the future of live theatre. I reckon this will go the way of the music industry and streaming – artists can’t live off their music so have to perform. Ditto, the AI thing will probably kill off the joy of performing in a film for actors and live stage will be the thing – probably massive productions on a Las Vegas scale. I look forward to that.

    • Danbury says:

      I had never thought of that, but now that you say it, I could totally see that happening! More live shows – hopefully more than just in the big hubs. How wonderful would that be for all of us!

  2. Melissa says:

    Love some Nic Cage energy, always!