The "Ghost Rider" star dished on making a comic book movie as a comic book fan and how he helped partially write the flick…plus, why wasn’t the Johnny Blaze pic ready as planned this summer?
Author: Steve Head
You don’t have to wait too much longer. It’s just two-and-a-half months, and "Ghost Rider" will be on theater screens nationwide. The movie, starring Nicolas Cage as the motorcycle-riding Johnny Blaze, a.k.a Ghost Rider, was originally scheduled for release this past summer. However, last June, the filmmakers realized: "We needed more time to make the movie we wanted to make," says Cage. That being the case, "Ghost Rider" was given a new release date: February 16th, 2007.
Cage explains, "We had to change the date because we still had a lot of things we wanted to do. It was pushed for several reasons: one reason – and the most important reason –- it wasn’t ready. And [director] Mark [Steven Johnson] had some big ideas for the character."
One of Johnson’s ideas was to add an action sequence in which Ghost Rider battles a helicopter. The added scene would also provide more insight into Blaze’s character.
"[Mark] really wanted this," says Cage. "It was important. He wanted him to battle the helicopter. And that required more money, and more CGI. It finally got green-lit late in the game. The studio liked the movie, and so they allowed Mark to get more money to make more action shots."
Having starred in "The Rock," "Con Air" and "National Treasure," Nicolas Cage is of course, is no stranger to making action movies. However, when it came to bringing "Ghost Rider" to life, Cage found the experience one of the most pleasing of his career.
"Maybe it was the fact that I love comics," he says. "Sure, people would say ‘playing a comic book character was something I’ve always wanted to do.’ But for me, it’s really something. It’s really good. I enjoyed all the people I was working with, and Mark was very collaborative. He allowed me to explore the character, create a character, and do things with it that weren’t in the original script."
Being a fan of comics, and "Ghost Rider" in particular, Cage says he was intent to keep the movie’s story structure close to it’s comic book origin. For that reason, he co-wrote portions of the screenplay.
"I tried to get involved as much as I can, firsthand, to help create a character that I feel good about, that I can put my stamp on," says Cage. "It’s the same story structure. He does sell his soul to save someone he loves, and gets tricked. He is a stunt cyclist. Beyond that, the Faustian mythology -– that’s pretty much all that was in the original comic. So, it was just trying to figure out how to extend that, or make more of it, to sustain a whole feature film."
Cage also admits he likes the use of comic book references, as long as they don’t take away from the story.
"I’ll always have a fondness for those kind of things," he says. "And the importance of names. For example, my own name. [Cage’s real name is Coppola. The name Cage comes from Luke Cage, a Marvel Comics superhero.] I’ve always tapped into different mythologies. People do that, whether it’s Arthurian, or Biblical, or Marvel Comics, or DC. People need their symbols of encouragement."
February, of course, is generally considered a quiet month for movie releases, but Cage is optimistic about "Ghost Rider"’s box office prospects. He places his confidence in the studio, Sony Pictures.