Nicolas Cage’s Tragic Real Life Story

Nicolas Cage is known for his eccentric personality, unique lifestyle choices, and extensive filmography. Although he is an Oscar-winning actor, he may be more notorious for his roles in cheesy movies and for some of the more eyebrow-raising elements of his personal life. 

Born Nicolas Kim Coppola, he is a part of one of Hollywood’s most famous dynasties. His uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, is an Oscar-winning filmmaker known for films like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” Meanwhile, Cage’s cousins include director Sofia Coppola and actor Jason Schwartzman. Despite being Hollywood royalty, the actor had a modest upbringing. His father, August Coppola, raised Cage and his two brothers on his own and did not make much money as a professor of literature. Reflecting on his experience growing up, Cage told The New York Times Magazine, “We lived modestly. We were on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, right next to the Porsche dealer. I would take the bus to school, and some of the older boys were going to school in Maseratis and Ferraris.”

Cage managed to work his way out of his modest background to become one of the most renowned, unique, and beloved actors of all time. Despite his apparent success, he has experienced some difficult times in his life. From money problems to failed marriages, here’s the actor’s tragic real-life story.

His mother dealt with mental illnessjoy vogelsang nicolas cage mother
Nicolas Cage was born to August Coppola and Joy Vogelsang in 1964. His father was an esteemed literature professor and the brother of renowned filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, while his mother was a dancer and choreographer. Cage’s mom sadly had some severe health difficulties, however. “She was plagued with mental illness for most of my childhood,” the actor told Playboy (via David Sheff). “She was institutionalized for years and went through shock treatments. She would go into these states that lasted for years.”

According to GQ, Vogelsang dealt with schizophrenia and depression when Cage was young, which ultimately led to her separating from his father. Seeing a parent deal with mental illness is not easy, but the actor found a creative way to cope with the experience. He told The Guardian in 2013, “I think I was just … some people would call it [living] under the protection of a guardian angel; other people would call it a child’s solipsism. It’s whatever you want to call it, but I was happy in the bubble of my imagination.”

Sadly, Vogelsang died in 2021 at the age of 85. Cage’s brother Christopher Coppola shared the news on Facebook where he paid tribute to his mother’s strength in spite of her difficult life, and just how much she loved her children. “I learned from my mama what ‘affection’ really means,” he wrote, in part.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Cage’s 107-day marriage

nicolas cage lisa marie presley
Outside of his acting career and celebrity status, Nicolas Cage is also known for his many romances over the years, some of which were very short-lived. Cage and Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, were initially linked in 2000 after meeting at a party of Ramones’ guitarist, Johnny Ramone, according to CNN. Cage and Presley were rumored to have had a shaky relationship for the next two years until August 2002 when they tied the knot, per People.

Their marriage did not last long, however. In November 2002, the couple said “I don’t” just three months after saying “I do,” and Cage filed for divorce. Despite their short-lived marriage, the pair appeared to separate on good terms, with Cage’s lawyer claiming at the time that the split was amicable, via Express. Though their breakup was rumored to have happened for a number of reasons, many tabloids fixated on Cage’s notable obsession with Elvis Presley as a core one.

Speaking about her relationship with Cage on CNN’s “Larry King Live!” in 2003, Presley suggested that she and her former hubby navigated the rocky seas of their relationship like a pair of overbearing buccaneers. “[When] one pirate marries another they will sink the ship basically is what it comes down to,” she told King. Presley noted, however, that they remained friends afterward. The actor would somehow experience an even shorter marriage later in life.

Cage’s four-day marriage
nicolas cage with full beard
Nicolas Cage’s most shocking relationship was not with his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, but with Erika Koike, to whom the actor was married for just four days. Yes, you read that right: four days. According to People, the pair were first spotted together while on vacation in April 2018. After several high-profile and publicized relationships, the actor kept his romance with the make-up artist under the radar, and the two were only seen together a handful of times after they started dating.

After nearly a year together, Cage and Koike got married in Las Vegas on March 23, 2019, but their marriage wouldn’t even last a week. On March 27, Cage filed for an annulment. In the actor’s legal documents, the “Gone in 60 Seconds” star claimed (via The Blast) that due to his drunkenness prior to the ceremony, he “reacted on impulse without the ability to recognize or understand the full impact of his actions.”

Per his annulment documents, Cage also accused Koike of fraud, alleging that she’d deceived him about her criminal background as well as “the full nature and extent of her relationship with another person” (via The Blast). According to TMZ, the annulment was rejected in favor of divorce, with Koike reportedly requesting spousal support for those four days. Two years later, Cage appeared to have found happiness when he married his fifth wife, Riko Shibata in February 2021.

A man once broke into his home
nicolas cage at press event
In 2007, Nicolas Cage experienced a home invasion which understandably left the actor shaken up. On October 1, the star reportedly discovered a man in his gated Newport Beach home and called security for help. At the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, Cage explained that while the strange episode may be comical to hear about, it was horrific for him to experience (via Reuters).

The actor was asleep with his wife while their 2-year-old baby snoozed in another room when he became aware of the intruder. “I opened my eyes and there was a naked man wearing my leather jacket eating a Fudgesicle in front of my bed,” he told reporters. The actor detailed the event while on tour to promote his 2011 film “Trespass” which coincidentally centers around a family who experiences a home invasion. Per Reuters, Cage didn’t press charges against the suspect. However, he decided he couldn’t stay in the house afterward either.

In 2008, the suspect, Robert Furo, plead guilty to stalking. He was subsequently ordered to enter a six-month drug rehabilitation program and to remain “at least 100 yards” from Cage and his family, according to the BBC. In his defense, Furo’s lawyer had suggested that a combination of sleeping pills and prescription painkillers had left the suspect out of sorts during the incident.

Cage was a victim of theft
nicolas cage looking solemn
Alongside being an avid lover of cinema, Nicolas Cage is also a huge comic book fan. On top of starring in a film adaption of the Marvel comic book series, “Ghost Rider,” the actor further named his second child Kal-El after Superman’s birth name, according to GQ. Most impressively, perhaps, Cage also boasts an extensive comic book collection.

Unfortunately, a valuable part of his collection was stolen in January 2000. The item, “Action Comic” #1, is renowned for being one of the most prized and significant comics ever made. As reported by ABC News, the book didn’t just establish Superman as a franchise but kickstarted the superhero comic craze, too. Cage bought the comic for $150,000 back in 1997 and had it on display in his Los Angeles home. Per The Hollywood Reporter, some other comics were also stolen from the actor’s collection, including high-grade copies of “Marvel Mystery” #71 and “Detective Comics” #27, the latter of which is renowned for featuring the first appearance of Batman.

The rare Superman comic would not make its way back to Cage for over 10 years, whereupon Cage’s copy of “Action Comic” #1 was found in a storage unit in the San Fernando Valley. “It is divine providence that the comic was found and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family,” Cage commented in 2011, per ABC News.

He was duped into buying a stolen artifact
nicolas cage leopard print beard
A valuable comic book collection is not unusual to have. A dinosaur skull, however, is definitely a rarity that most people would be inclined to save for museum displays. But then, Nicolas Cage is not most people. In 2007, the actor bought a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull from a Beverly Hills gallery, per Reuters. Despite receiving a certificate of authenticity for the piece, the massive fossil was revealed to have been stolen from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. According to The New York Times, the United States Department of Homeland Security worked with Cage to return the skull, and he fully cooperated to turn it over.

Cage reflected on the situation to The New York Times Magazine, “The dinosaur skull was an unfortunate thing, because I did spend $276,000 on that. I bought it at a legitimate auction and found out it was abducted from Mongolia illegally, and then I had to give it back.” Though he was fully supportive of volunteering the skull’s return, the actor nonetheless lost out on the endeavor. “I never got my money back. So that stank,” he griped to the outlet.

The demand for stolen historical artifacts such as these is surprisingly common. In 2012, Eric Prokopi was arrested and charged with conspiracy to smuggle illegal goods as well as possession of stolen property. He was found to have had at least 18 Mongolian dinosaur skeletons in his Florida home, per The United States Department of Justice.

Cage nearly went bankrupt
nicolas cage grey hair beard
After a series of unusual purchases and reckless spending, Nicolas Cage nearly went bankrupt. The actor was once one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, earning approximately $40 million per year at his peak in the 1990s and early 2000s, as reported by The Street. According to CNBC, the star also spent most of his $150 million fortune on a variety of things, ranging from the aforementioned stolen dinosaur skull to real estate around the world.

The outlet revealed some of his pricey purchases which were alleged to have included a $3 million island in the Bahamas, a $150,000 pet octopus, and a $450,000 Lamborghini once owned by the late shah of Iran. That was on top of 15 properties, ranging from a $25 million home in California to a $10 million castle in Europe. Eventually, there were consequences to his excessive spending spree. By 2009, Cage was reported to have owed over $6 million to the IRS and was forced to sell some of his properties, per The Mirror.

Amidst his financial hardship, Cage sued his business manager, Samuel J. Levin, for fraud and mismanagement, according to ABC News. He sought $20 million for his troubles. Levin countersued the actor and claimed that Cage’s extravagant spending habits were his own problem and had nothing to do with him. The lawsuit was settled in 2010, though details of the resolution remain confidential.

He has made several movies to get out of debt
nicolas cage looking serious
In a bid to dig himself out of deep financial trouble, Nicolas Cage appeared in 50 movies between 2009 and 2022, averaging about four movies a year. During this time, the Oscar winner earned himself an unfortunate reputation as a B-rate movie actor. Taking on such varied and occasionally dubious movie roles, however, was less of a creative choice and more of a responsible means to get out of debt.

While his deficit was accumulating, work for Cage was also drying up. Speaking to GQ about his difficult slump from the top, he remained level-headed about the business side of his troubles. “The phone stopped ringing … It was like, ‘What do you mean we’re not doing National Treasure 3? It’s been 14 years! Why not?’ ‘Well, ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ didn’t work, and ‘Ghost Rider’ didn’t really sell tickets. And ‘Drive Angry,’ that just came and went,'” he reflected.

Per the outlet, the decision to do in 10 years what most actors manage in an entire career literally paid off, and the actor was able to get out of debt. Now that he’s financially stable and in better control of his money, the actor has been able to dedicate his time to meaningful projects, including the 2021 film “Pig” for which Cage received great critical acclaim.

The internet jokes got to him
nicolas cage black fur coat
Being a high-profile celebrity is difficult enough, but when every aspect of a person’s life and personality is magnified, it can take a toll on their mental health and self-esteem. Over the years, Nicolas Cage has remained the butt of many internet jokes and memes, and for a while, he wasn’t exactly cool with it.

In 2018, Cage opened up to IndieWire about his online reputation and discussed his unease with how some of his distinctive performances had been repurposed and mocked online. He explained, in part, “The issue is, with the advent of the internet, doing these mashups, where they pull these choice moments without the context of the whole film around it to support it, has created this meme-ification, if you will. It’s been branded ‘Cage Rage,’ and it’s frustrating.”

The flood of “Cage-Rage” memes has significantly died down over the years, and Cage has since grown to deal with being plastered on the internet. The actor told GQ in 2022, “You can’t go against that which is,” and is seemingly content with his digital reputation. So much so that in his 2022 film, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself and seemingly interacts directly with his own meme-d image. “I think it was a way of embracing what had happened to me,” he told the outlet.

The death of his father profoundly affected him
nicolas cage kick ass premiere
Due to his mother’s mental illness, Nicolas Cage was mainly raised by his father, August Coppola, and the two subsequently forged a close relationship over the years. As detailed by GQ, his father, a professor of comparative literature, exposed him to great examples of cinema like the classics of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini and German impressionistic work. “He was always the smartest man in the room when he walked into any room,” Cage told the outlet about Coppola. In an interview with The Guardian, the actor further credited him as serving as the strongest influence on his career, thanks to this cinematic education.

Coppola died on October 29, 2009, of a heart attack (via CBS News). Since his death, however, he’s continued to influence much of Cage’s life. The actor revealed to GQ that he and his wife Riko Shibata got married on his father’s birthday and that the two plan on naming their child (if a girl) Lennon Augie, with the latter being his father’s nickname.

Outside of his personal life, Cage’s father also continues to influence his career and creative expression. The actor told GQ that his father was a point of inspiration for his performance in the 2023 Dracula film, “Renfield,” wherein he plays the legendary bloodsucker. He stated, “August Coppola’s coming back, and he’s coming back as Dracula.”

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