Why Nicolas Cage Was Rejected By His Uncle For A Big Role

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The actors’ career benefits immensely from family members already involved in the film industry, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s daughter, stranger things star Maya Hawke, to the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, The BatmanIt’s Zoe Kravitz. While some actors may have their doors thrown open out of nepotism, Nicolas Cage can say he’s been turned away by his uncle — twice.


Cage’s birth name is Nicolas Kim Coppola. The Coppolas are a family of Italian-American filmmakers, with Cage’s uncle, acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola, front and center. Cage rose to prominence for his Oscar-winning performance in the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas. However, he would have stepped into the limelight many years before if his uncle hadn’t rejected him for The foreigners and The Godfather Part III.

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The 1983 coming-of-age drama The foreigners is an adaptation of SE Hinton’s 1967 novel of the same title. Coppola served as the director and many future big names in Hollywood made up the cast, like Ralph Macchio before The Karate Kid and Patrick Swayze before Relay. The film follows Ponyboy Curtis and the intense rivalry between the Socs and Greasers in 1960s Oklahoma.

Since The foreigners was released, the film became cult, as the novel became part of the assigned reading for many students. Although the cast almost looked a bit different. Cage auditioned to play Dally Winston, one of Ponyboy’s reckless friends, who ends up dead when he points an unloaded gun at the cops. According to IMDb, Cage took a methodical approach to getting ready by locking himself in his room for two weeks and staring at a photo of classic movie star Charles Bronson to mimic his attitude.

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After all his hard work, Coppola didn’t cast Cage for Dally, and the role went to Matt Dillon instead. Dillon also starred in two other films based on Hinton’s novels — Texas and that of Coppola growling fish. After Cage didn’t get the role he wanted, Coppola offered him the role of Keith “Two-Bit” Matthews, another Greaser. Cage turned down the role, and Coppola cast Emilio Estevez instead.

Although Cage did not receive a major role in The foreigners, he actually made a small appearance in the film as a member of a rival gang during the rumble scene. In addition to Cage, Coppola’s daughter Sofia makes a cameo appearance as the girl who demands 15 cents from the Greasers. She is credited as “Domino” in the cast list.

While being rejected for The foreigners must have been hurtful, it wasn’t the last time Cage’s own uncle fired him. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cage begged Coppola to cast him as Vincent Corleone in The Godfather Part III. “I really think I should be in your movie, uncle,” Cage revealed. “I think I could do that role…it was a movie I wasn’t allowed in and I really wanted to be in.” Coppola again sent his nephew home and threw The Incorruptibles star Andy García in the role. Ouch, talk about a burn!

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