Nicolas Cage Says He ‘Probably’ Wasn’t Paid For This Award-Winning Performance

“I wasn’t going to stop — whether they paid me or not, I was making the movie,” the actor said of his role in the ’90s film.
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Nicolas Cage appears to be unfazed over what he earned to star as Ben Sanderson in the 1995 movie “Leaving Las Vegas.”

In an interview at the SXSW Film & TV Festival earlier this week, the actor told Business Insider that it’s “probably true” that he didn’t get paid for the role that won him both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

“But I haven’t been thinking about it,” Cage said.

He added that he “absolutely had to play” the part in a film that follows Sanderson, a screenwriter with alcoholism and suicidal thoughts who meets a sex worker named Sera (played by Elisabeth Shue) in Las Vegas.

“There was no doubt in my mind that it would be an experience and a great movie. I wasn’t going to stop — whether they paid me or not, I was making the movie,” Cage said of the film based on a John O’Brien novel.

“Leaving Las Vegas” writer and director Mike Figgis, in a 2022 interview for The Hollywood Reporter’s “It Happened in Hollywood” podcast, revealed that he and Cage weren’t paid $100,000 fees for the film.

“They said the film never went into profit,” said Figgis of Lumiere Pictures, which financed what THR noted was a “$4 million film.”

He continued, “I mean, my career then took off again, and the next film I did, I got really well paid. And within a year, [Cage] was earning $20 million a film, so that was quite good.”

The critically acclaimed film — which scored director and adapted screenplay nominations at the Academy Awards — grossed $32 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

For her role in the film, Shue also scored lead actress nominations at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.

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