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Nicolas Cage Believes He ‘Probably’ Was Not Paid for His Oscar-Winning Role in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’

Nicolas Cage Thinks He Probably Was Not Paid for an Oscar Winning Role
Nicolas Cage. Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Nicolas Cage isn’t sure whether or not he actually got a check for his role in Leaving Las Vegas.

While attending the SXSW Film & TV Festival on Monday, March 11, Cage, 60, admitted that speculation he was never paid for the film was “probably true.” However, the actor was not fazed by the realization.

“But I haven’t been thinking about it. I got to play a part that I absolutely had to play,” Cage told Business Insider. “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 starred as a suicidal alcoholic who moves from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in the 1995 Mike Figgis-helmed drama. Before signing onto the project, Cage was in the midst of a career slump. When Leaving Las Vegas premiered, the film earned critical acclaim. Cage went on to win Best Actor at the 53rd Golden Globes and the 68th Academy Awards for his performance. Following his win, Cage cemented himself as a movie star and landed roles in The Rock, Face/Off and more.

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However, in October 2022, Figgis, 76, appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s “It Happened In Hollywood” podcast and claimed he never received his $100,000 fee for his work on the project, despite earning an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

“They said the film never went into profit,” Figgis claimed, recalling a conversation he had with the studio that backed the project, Lumiere Pictures.

Nicolas Cage Thinks He Probably Was Not Paid for an Oscar Winning Role
Matthew McConaughey, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Brendan Fraser pose with Cillian Murphy winner of the Oscar for Best Actor. Robyn BECK / AF

Figgis shared that he opted to use handheld 16mm cameras due to the movie’s low budget and filmed in the streets of Las Vegas in one take. According to Box Office Mojo, Leaving Las Vegas grossed $32 million worldwide at the box office.

Despite allegedly not getting paid for his work, Figgis shared that things ended up working out for him and Cage as they moved on to bigger things

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

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While Cage has achieved many milestones throughout his career, the Oscar winner has been candid about his potential retirement plans.

“I feel that I’ve, at this point — after 45 years of doing this … I feel I’ve pretty much said what I’ve had to say with cinema,” he said in a December 2023 interview with Uproxx. “And I’d like to leave on a high note and say, ‘Adios.’ I think I have to do maybe three or four more movies before I can get there, and then hopefully switch formats and go into some other way of expressing my acting.”

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