One of the most famous (infamous?) stories about Nicolas Cage is that the actor was once in possession of a dinosaur skull that he ultimately had to return after learning it had been looted from Mongolia. Lesser known is the tale of Cage’s rare two-headed snake — told GQ in a new cover story — that he had to give away as well because it was too difficult to feed.
As noted in the piece, the unique snake came into Cage’s in the most fitting possible way: One night, he had a dream about a two-headed eagle, and while it was a different species entirely, he couldn’t resist when he received a call the next day about a two-headed snake that was available for $80,000.
He purchased the animal but soon realized that feeding it involved the thorny process of putting a spatula between the two heads to keep them from fighting over the food. Ultimately, Cage handed the animal over to the Audubon Zoo, where it recently died at the age of 14.
Cage has long had a penchant for peculiar pets, and he currently takes care of a Maine coon cat (named Merlin), a talking crow (named Huginn), and an assortment of fish and turtles he took in after the owner of his favorite pet store died. “My job is to care for them, make sure they’re happy and safe,” Cage told GQ. “Eventually, I’ll have to donate [them], like I donated my two-headed snake to the Audubon Zoo.”
On top of the delightful animal anecdotes, Cage discussed the way his life and career have been meme’d over the past decade. In some ways, he’s learned to embrace his outsized persona, as exemplified by his upcoming movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which he plays both a schlubbier, down-on-his-luck version of himself as well as a younger, super-smooth version (with the help of anti-aging technology).
But there’s still some discomfort with the internet-inspired perception of him. Cage revealed he’d been in talks to host Saturday Night Live this spring but was wary about accepting it, noting the years Andy Samberg spent playing a hammed-up Cage character on the show. While the actual Cage did do a Weekend Update bit with Samberg once, the actor admits, “I feel like saying [to SNL], ‘Well, why don’t you call Andy Samberg? I mean, I hear he’s available.”
Cage also offered a frank assessment of the disastrous real estate decisions that left him broke at the beginning of the 2010s, as well as how he approached the myriad movies he subsequently did to get himself out of debt.
“When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all,” he said. “They didn’t work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like Mandy, but some of them didn’t work. But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring.”