Everyone always assumes that Nicholas Cage bothers me, but he really doesn't. I know, he only got to be an actor because he's Francis Ford Coppola's nephew (thx Daisy for the correction), and I know he was always out of shape for an action star, and I know he can't do accents, and I know he randomly inflects his voice in the verbal equivalent of a toddler climbing stairs in roller skates...but really, I don't care. I like Nicholas Cage. He can't act--he's unbelievably terrible--but he tries.
He really tries, and that's so rare in elites. Most of those big actors, they just roll on out there and suck, and they don't really care about it. Every one of their portrayals is of nothing but the popular version of themselves that got them famous in the first place, so no one minds if all of the "characters" they "play" are the exact same--the similarity makes their career sequential, and that's what people want out of movies. Bad acting from big stars makes every movie a sequel, so you don't have to confuse yourself learning all about some new character. For the big stars, the producers' assistants try desperately to cobble together the actors' accidental personalities into a workable stream of twenty or thirty takes a scene, and the "best" one of those can actually be used in the editing room. Unlike old blockbusters, where some small degree of memorization and professionalism was required, new ones are made coherent only by the fact that the shot changes, sometimes quite subtly, about every 2-3 seconds. The sequence of best takes gets strung together on someone's Apple, and with plenty of soundtrack continuity, and the layover of separate vocal tracks, it all seems to blend together into one "movie." Best of all, when it works that way, no one has to actually "remember lines" or "get into character."
But Nicholas Cage...man, when he works, he's out there. He puts his whole heart and soul into every wretched performance, trying so very, very hard to be a genuine actor. And years of unmitigated failure haven't dampened his spirit one bit. He gives his 100% in every movie he's in. Even when he gets fame, money, power--it doesn't matter, because he's actually pursuing a calling. Like a weighted boxing dummy, he springs right back up, ready to embarrass himself again in pursuit of his craft. Even when he's forced to work in the presence of talented actors, making himself look even more glaringly bad by comparison, he still goes out there and gives it his all.
And I can appreciate that. Real effort. Real caring.