Acclaimed American actor, producer, and director Nicolas Cage was born as Nicolas Coppola on Jan. 7, 1964, in Long Beach, California. As a child, Cage was very religious due to his Catholic background, which stemmed from his Italian heritage. Cage’s father and mother, a professor and dancer respectively, divorced when he was only twelve years old. Cage dreamed of acting from an early age, and he took up theater at Beverly Hills High School. Cage’s first acting role was in “Golden Boy,” a school production. After dropping out of high school at the age of seventeen in order to pursue an acting career, Cage secured a minor role in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982. However, many of the scenes in which Cage performed were cut from the movie release, so he temporarily set aside his dream of becoming an actor.
Cage ultimately wanted to pursue an acting career, however, and he found a job selling popcorn at the Fairfax Theater. The following year, Cage stumbled upon a role in “Rumble Fish,” which was directed by his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. Up until this point in his acting career, Cage had gone by his real name, Nicolas Coppola, but he decided to use a stage name going forward for fear of nepotism accusations. He chose the name Nicolas Cage out of his admiration for comic superhero Luke Cage.
The initial success of “Rumble Fish” led to further roles in “Valley Girl,” “The Cotton Club,” and “Birdy.” Although many of these films were not box office hits, Cage’s roles in these movies allowed him to begin developing a name for himself within Hollywood. In 1987, Cage starred in a comedy, “Raising Arizona,” directed by the Coen brothers. In that same year, Cage was nominated for his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for playing the role of Ronny Cammareri in “Moonstruck.” He did not win the Golden Globe, but many movie critics recognized this as a breakthrough role for Cage.
The following year, Cage began a relationship with actress Christina Fulton, who would go on to give birth to Cage’s first son, Weston. Cage broke up with Fulton a couple of years after their son was born and secured joint custody. For the next few years, Cage found roles in minor films that did not have much success at the box office. The role that perhaps defined Cage’s acting career came in the 1995 drama “Leaving Las Vegas,” in which he played Ben Sanderson, a suicidal alcoholic. Cage was nominated for a whole host of awards for this performance and won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Later in 1995, Cage married actress Patricia Arquette. The couple’s relationship lasted for six years, but they divorced in 2001. The following year, Cage married for the second time To Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the legendary Elvis Presley. Cage and Presley married in August 2002, but they filed for divorce only a few months later. The divorce was finalized in May of 2004. A couple of months after getting officially divorced from his second wife, Cage married Alice Kim, whom he met while she was working at a Los Angeles restaurant. Just over a year later, Kim gave birth to Cage’s second, son, Kal-El.
In 2007, Cage took on the role of Johnny Blaze in the superhero film “Ghost Rider.” As a result of the success of this film, a sequel was made five years later. Also in 2007, Cage reprised his role of Benjamin Gates in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” a sequel to the 2004 adventure film “National Treasure.” In 2009, Cage voiced characters in the animated films “G-Force” and “Astro Boy.”
Over the past few years, Cage has run into some legal troubles. In late 2009, Cage’s former girlfriend, Christina Fulton, sued Cage for not providing her with an adequate house in which to live. In 2011, Cage was arrested in the city of New Orleans after police suspected that he was under the influence of alcohol and disturbing the peace. About a month after his arrest, all charges were dropped. Later that year, Cage sold his rights to Action Comics 1 in order to pay off unpaid taxes and other debts that he owed.