Nicolas Cage Says He Channelled Michael Jordan And Marlon Brando For His Latest Role

A seriously odd combination...

In the upcoming film Butcher’s Crossing, Nicolas Cage plays a 19th-century buffalo hunter. And he’s revealed his performance was influenced by Michael Jordan and Marlon Brando…


It goes without saying that Nicolas Cage is one interesting dude. The Oscar-winning actor has played multiple eccentric characters over the years (including a fictionalised version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent) and spent a great bulk of his fortune on weird things like a dinosaur skull, Pygmy shrunken heads and a haunted house.

And in true Nic Cage fashion, the actor has revealed that he channelled an odd combination of people for his latest role – NBA star Michael Jordan and iconic actor Marlon Brando.

In the upcoming film, Butcher’s Crossing – which is set in the 1800s – Cage plays an experienced buffalo hunter who convinces a young academic to come along on a dangerous expedition. And in an interview with Collider, Cage spoke about his character – named Miller – and how the director of Butcher’s Crossing, Gabe Polsky, asked him to draw his performance from Jordan.

“We all know the phenomenon and the dynamic force, and the ambition and the need to win of Michael Jordan. [The director] was saying [to me], ‘Think about that. Why don’t you shave your head? Think about that ferociousness that he has on the court, that he has to win at all costs.’ So, I did think about it and then I went ahead and said, ‘Okay’.”

Nicolas Cage

Honestly, the idea that Cage played a 19th-century buffalo hunter while thinking about a 21st-century basketball player is totally absurd. But Polsky, who was also present during the interview, further explained why he wanted Cage to channel Jordan while playing Miller – and it does make (some) sense.

Nicolas Cage as Miller in Butcher’s Crossing. Image Credit: TIFF

“I think Michael Jordan [is the] greatest athlete ever, but there is kind of a, and he’ll say it himself, you know, a sort of dark side to [him]. He would say that nobody can get [in] his way. He would say things to his teammates and push them to their limits.”

“A lot of people say he’s kind of a dark guy. And that intensity… So, I think there is kind of a darkness to that kind of intensity and ambition, and I always felt that from him, and that’s why I wanted to talk to Nic about Michael Jordan.”

Cage also shared that Brando’s role as an insane Colonel waging guerilla warfare in Apocalypse Now – considered one of the greatest films of all time – had some influence on his performance as Miller in Butcher’s Crossing too.

“… I [also] thought of Francis [Ford Coppola]’s movie Apocalypse Now and what Brando looked like. [Miller] was kind of a combination of Jordan-Brando.”

Nicolas Cage

Currently, Butcher’s Crossing has not yet been given a release date but it’s expected to hit cinemas before the end of this year – and we personally can’t wait to see Cage’s performance after hearing that he channelled both Jordan and Brando.

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