talented and offbeat:

In an industry in which everyone longs to be tagged a brooding, edgy rebel, Nicolas Cage is the genuine article. During the course of his movie career, Cage has had two teeth yanked out sans Novocain, trashed his trailer in a fit of spleen and has eaten a live cockroach on camera. Now there’s a guy who will do anything for art.

We love the roles he plays. Whether it’s a dopehead or a hero, we can’t help but want to pat him on the back for a job well done. Unlike many of his counterparts who have nothing more than a chiseled face, he is a talented actor with a relatively decorated background.

Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola on January 7, 1964, in Long Beach, California. The son of August Coppola and Joy Vogelsang, Cage is also the nephew of Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola.

After having worked on several films, Cage decided he did not want to use his family name because of the expectations attached to it. Cage decided to become an actor after watching James Dean’s performance in ‘East of Eden’ and was able to relate to Dean’s character that was constantly trying to please his father. It’s hard to believe that Cage was a social outcast in high school — awkward and too shy to ask girls out — especially when associating him to the characters he has portrayed in movies such as ‘The Rock’ and ‘Face/Off’.

Cage’s first film role was in his uncle’s film ‘Rumble Fish’ in 1983. After being taunted by envious cast members who would refer to famous movie lines from his uncle’s films, Cage decided to change his last name. He toyed with different last names and finally chose Cage in honor of comic-book superhero Luke Cage and the composer John Cage. His first audition as Nicolas Cage was for the movie ‘Valley Girl’, his follow-up role to ‘Rumble Fish’.

In 1984, he starred in his first dramatic role in ‘Birdy’ as a Vietnam veteran. That same year, Cage also appeared in ‘Racing With the Moon’ and ‘The Cotton Club’. Two years later, Cage starred opposite Kathleen Turner in ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’, also directed by Coppola. His role as a 50’s rocker was not well received by critics since Cage adapted his role and distorted it by adding a high-pitched voice to the character. Cher, on the other hand, was impressed by his performance and thought he would be perfect for what was to be Cage’s first blockbuster film, ‘Moonstruck’. His role as the tormented lover earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Vegas must be Cage’s lucky place. In 1992, he starred in the romantic comedy ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ with James Caan and Sarah Jessica Parker in his first mainstream movie role, marking a turning point in his career. After roles in unsuccessful films such as ‘Amos’ and ‘Andrew’ and ‘Guarding Tess’, Cage finally received the recognition he deserved for his dark role as an alcoholic in the alternative film ‘Leaving Las Vegas’. His intense role, which was helped by the fact that he had just recently broken up with his fiancée, Kristen Zang, earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

After his Oscar win, Cage wanted to take on more of a superhero role and starred opposite Sean Connery in the 1996 summer blockbuster ‘The Rock’, also starring Vanessa Marcil as his wife. The trend of summer blockbusters started at this point with Cage’s role in 1997’s ‘Con Air’ and ‘Face/Off’, where Cage and John Travolta switch identities. His next film roles were not as successful and ended up being box-office disappointments. Cage has been married to actress Patricia Arquette since 1995 and they live with their sons, each from previous marriages. He will be seen in this summer’s action thriller ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’, co-starring Angelina Jolie, as well as a WWII drama with Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz.

In 1999, he turned to producing with the indie film ‘Shadow of the Vampire’, about the making of the silent horror film ‘Nosferatu’, and joined the $20 million actor’s club for his role in ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’, out in 2000.

Off-screen, Cage has always played the role of movie star to the hilt. He boasts a swank wardrobe and an equally swank fleet of European sports cars.

Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston split

Los Angeles: Hollywood glamour couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston have split, his publicist confirmed Friday. “We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate,” the couple said in a statement. “For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any speculation reported by the tabloid media,” the actors said. The couple didn’t indicate if they plan to divorce, and publicist Cindy Guagenti declined to comment beyond the statement, which also said, “We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another.”

The separation, first reported on People magazine’s Web site, comes 4 1/2 years after the pair’s wedding and after months of speculation that their marriage was in trouble. Aniston has recently been photographed in public without her diamond-studded wedding ring, according to People, although the magazine said the couple had spent the New Year’s weekend together on the Caribbean island of Anguilla with Aniston’s former “Friends” co-star Courteney Cox and her husband, actor David Arquette.

Pitt, 41, and Aniston, 35, have been together since being set up on a blind date in 1998. They were married in a lavish wedding on July 29, 2000, on a Malibu estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Some 200 people attended the event, which included four bands, a gospel choir, fireworks and tens of thousands of flowers. Part of Pacific Coast Highway was shut down to accommodate the influx of guests, which included actress Cameron Diaz and most of Aniston’s “Friends” co-stars. It was the first marriage for both. Until rumors began swirling that they were about to split, there were near-constant tabloid rumors that Aniston was pregnant. The actress had told People in 2002 that she and Pitt eventually wanted to start a family. — AP

Spector defence blasts transcript release

Los Angeles: Phil Spector’s defense attorneys Friday denounced the release of grand jury transcripts in which witnesses quoted the record producer as saying he accidentally shot actress Lana Clarkson to death in his mansion and then changed his story to suggest she committed suicide. Attorney Bruce Cutler said the transcripts offered a one-sided view of evidence in the murder case. “Much of it contains lies, half-truths and slanted testimony and is biased, prejudicial and unfair,” Cutler said in a telephone interview from New York. The transcripts portray an apparently inebriated Spector out on the town with two other women before he took Clarkson home.

They also show his mansion had an arsenal of 11 guns, all registered to him and many of them fully loaded, but that the .38-caliber revolver that killed Clarkson was not registered to him or to anyone else. Cutler said the lack of gun registration is important to Spector’s defense, as is the absence of motive for the shooting. — AP

Sharon in ‘Basic Instinct’ sequel

Los Angeles: Sharon Stone will reportedly reprise her role in “Basic Instinct,” playing a seductive novelist opposite British actor David Morrisey, who has been cast as a psychiatrist. According to the Hollywood Reporter, in “Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction”, Morrisey’s character will try to treat novelist Catherine Tramell, who once again finds herself in some legal trouble. “David Morrisey is one of Britain’s most talented actors and is the perfect choice to play opposite Sharon in Basic Instinct 2,” producer Mario Kassar said. Filming is set to start in London in March. — AFP

Spacey to be

‘Superman’ baddie

Los Angeles: Double Oscar winner Kevin Spacey has been reportedly signed up to play the villainous Lex Luther in the new Warner Bros version of “Superman.” According to the trade magazine Variety, “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” star will play opposite Brandon Routh, the newcomer chosen in October as Superman in the role once played by the late Christopher Reeve.

Variety said filming would start on March 3 in Sydney with Bryan Singer as director, and that Warner Bros is trying to secure Kate Bosworth to play Lois Lane. Spacey is not set to join the filming in Australia until August as he has commitments as artistic director at the Old Vic theatre in London. Spacey and Bosworth starred together in Spacey’s film “Beyond the Sea”, about singer Bobby Darin, which has just opened in the United States. — AFP

Weekend in the sun

Sanjeev Satgainya


When Nanglo The Bakery Café’s seventh and latest outlet at Sundhara was launched in November, it seemed to promise something more than the regular stuff. True to expectations, The Bakery Café at Sundhara has initiated a new concept to attract guests and patrons from January 8. Saturdays are for fun, get togethers and merrymaking and cashing in on this holiday spirit, the café has started a ‘Shanibar Mela’ at its premises.

The January sun calls everyone to bask, eat and enjoy in its glory and the expanded Sundhara Garden at the café has been beautifully transformed to accommodate a unique picnic spot, podium for a band and a gaming spot for children. A live performance by Heartbreakers, one of the most popular bands in the country, is an attraction for music lovers. Face painting, exciting fun games for children, magic shows and additions to the menu may also prove to be major crowdpullers.

Pooja Shrestha, marketing manager, Nanglo International, shared, “The concept has been planned to proffer a new touch to our café. The expanded garden makes a suitable venue for picnicking to those who don’t want to go to the outskirts of the city and our guests can choose anything from our available menu, hence they are spared the task of preparing food items at home.” So if you are looking for a place to go next weekend, Sundhara Garden could be the perfect choice.