9 Bizarre Facts About Nicolas Cage

Sascha Steinbach, Getty Images
Sascha Steinbach, Getty Images

It is perhaps unfair to characterize actor Nicolas Cage as an eccentric solely based on his frenzied performances on film. Yes, he once ingested a live cockroach for 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss. It is also true that he improvised smashing a pool table with a sledgehammer while singing “The Hokey Pokey” for 2018’s Mom and Dad, and that his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, threatened to fire him because he insisted on speaking in a bizarrely high-pitched voice for 1986’s Peggy Sue Got Married.

None of these things indicate anything other than a devotion to his craft. It’s the other facts of the 54-year-old Cage’s eventful life that make some wonder if he’s somewhere south of normal. Consider these selections culled from his past and decide for yourself.

1. A NAKED HOME INTRUDER ATE A FUDGSICLE AT THE FOOT OF HIS BED.

Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Discussing his home invasion thriller Trespass in 2011, Cage shared with reporters that he was once victimized by someone who had broken into his Orange County home. “I opened my eyes and there was a naked man wearing my leather jacket eating a Fudgsicle in front of my bed,” he said. “I know it sounds funny ... but it was horrifying.” Cage said he talked to the man until police arrived.

2. HE WAS THE VICTIM OF A MASSIVE COMIC BOOK HEIST.

Matt Cowan, Getty Images

In 1997, comic book fan Cage purchased a copy of Action Comics #1, the highly sought-after 1939 issue that introduced Superman and ushered in the 20th century superhero genre. That comic book, along with several other rare titles, were stolen from Cage’s home in January 2000 in a case that went cold for 11 years before the book showed up in a San Fernando Valley storage locker. (The locker’s owner said he purchased the unit without knowing what was inside.) After a police investigation, the comic was returned to Cage, who sold it for a then-record $2.1 million later that same year. Cage called the retrieval of the comic after a decade “divine providence.”

3. HE BOUGHT A PYRAMID TOMB.

Nelo Hotsuma, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Standing in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans is a nine-foot pyramid tomb that carries a Latin maxim, “Omni Ab Uno” (Everything From One). The grave underneath is currently unoccupied, but some have speculated that it may eventually house Cage, who purchased the twin plots in 2010 and built the pyramid over them. The actor has never publicly commented on the sale.

4. HE SLEPT IN DRACULA’S CASTLE.

Daniel Mihailescu, AFP/Getty Images

While promoting Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2011, actor Idris Elba recalled an incident on location in Romania that exemplifies Cage’s professional commitment. Noticing Cage appeared tired one day, Elba asked if he had gotten any rest. “Yeah man, I went up to Dracula's castle ... the ruins up in the mountains, and I stayed the night,” Cage said. “'I just had to channel the energy, and it was pretty spooky up there.”  Cage was probably referring to Bran Castle near Transylvania, which may have been the inspiration for Dracula’s residence in the original Bram Stoker novel.

5. HE ACCIDENTALLY BOUGHT A STOLEN DINOSAUR SKULL.

Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

Cage’s extravagant spending habits have been well documented, though few purchases have matched his grandiose gesture of spending $276,000 for a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull at a 2007 auction. What Cage did not know was that the skull had been stolen from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Contacted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2014, the actor agreed to hand it over so it could be returned.

6. HE BOUGHT THE MOST HAUNTED MANSION IN THE WORLD SO HE COULD WRITE A HORROR NOVEL.

Reading Tom, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

What better atmosphere to compose a scary bunch of prose than a haunted house? This was Cage’s motivation for purchasing the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans in 2007, which once belonged to serial killer Madame Delphine LaLaurie. He lost it to foreclosure in 2009. “I didn’t get too far with the novel,” he told Vanity Fair.

7. HE ONCE TRIPPED OUT ON MUSHROOMS WITH HIS CAT.

Kochi Kamoshida, Getty Images

Appearing as a guest on David Letterman’s Late Show in 2010, Cage was armed with a valuable talk show anecdote. Earlier in his career, he said, he owned a cat named Lewis who enjoyed partaking in Cage’s stash of magic mushrooms. Finally, Cage decided he should have some, too. “I remember lying in my bed for hours,” he said, “and Lewis was on the desk across from the bed for hours, staring at each other … not moving. But he would stare at me, and I had no doubt that he was my brother.”

8. HE SHOWED UP TO A NICOLAS CAGE FILM FESTIVAL.

Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

For the past several years, Cage fans in Austin have gathered at the Alamo Drafthouse for a screening of popular Cage titles like Face/Off and National Treasure. Organizers make a point to invite Cage every time, though the actor’s schedule typically prevents him from attending. In January 2017, the actor finally made it, surprising an audience of Cagephiles and sitting for several of his own films. Afterward, he took questions and delivered a live reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.

9. A JAPANESE CORN SNACK USED HIS LIKENESS WITHOUT PERMISSION.

In October 2017, Cage aficionados in Japan were delighted to see the actor’s face emblazoned on packages of a crunchy corn snack called Deluxe Umaibou Nicolastick. While it would be nice to think Cage was compensated for his apparent endorsement of the food item, a representative for the actor told Kotaku that he had not given his permission for his face to appear on the wrapper—the item was intended to promote his film, Army of One, in a handful of theaters, but no one had asked Cage for his consent. The film’s international distributor, FilmNation, apologized for the error.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Remembering Rebecca: 11 Facts About Daphne du Maurier's Enduring Novel

Lily James as Mrs de Winter and Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (2020).
Lily James as Mrs de Winter and Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (2020).
KERRY BROWN/NETFLIX

“Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca,” laments the second Mrs de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 novel Rebecca. Mention the title to any bibliophile and they will no doubt give you many reasons why the novel has charmed and captivated so many generations over the years. So it's hardly surprising that this gothic thriller about a nameless young woman—who is swept off her feet by a wealthy widower, taken to live in his estate off the Cornish coast, and haunted by memories of his first wife—is the subject of Netflix’s next big-budget original.

The film, which stars Lily James (Downtown Abbey) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) arrives on Netflix on October 21, 2020. As you wait for the new adaptation to drop, here are a few facts about this enduring novel to keep you curious. **Warning: Spoilers below!**

1. Rebecca was first published in 1938 and has never gone out of print.

Selznick International Pictures, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Since it was published in 1938, Rebecca has never gone out of print [PDF], selling 2.8 million copies between 1938 and 1965. Over time, the novel has transformed from bestseller to cultural classic, with many stage and screen adaptations, including an Oscar-winning film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, and a 1993 book sequel by Susan Hill titled Mrs de Winter. In 2017, English bibliophiles voted Rebecca their favorite book of the past 225 years.

2. The heroine of Rebecca, Mrs de Winter, remains unnamed throughout.

Rebecca, after whom the novel is named, is dead when the story begins. She is brought to life via the impressions and memories other characters have of her and her lingering presence in Maxim de Winter's estate, Manderley, via her scent, her handwriting in books, and the carefully preserved clothes that remain in her wardrobe. Mostly, we see her through the eyes of the new Mrs de Winter, the "heroine" of the novel who, paradoxically, remains unnamed—a choice that surprised many fans of the book, including Agatha Christie [PDF].

3. Daphne du Maurier struggled with writer’s block while writing Rebecca.

Daphne du Maurier circa 1947.Ben van Meerendonk, AHF, IISG, Amsterdam // Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Du Maurier struggled with a serious case of writer’s block when she began writing Rebecca. She discarded the first 50 pages of an early draft, telling her publisher: "The first 15,000 words I tore up in disgust and this literary miscarriage has cast me down."

4. Once she got past her writer’s block, Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca in four months.

Once she got past her early writing challenges, du Maurier wrote quickly and completed the manuscript for Rebecca in four months. Her secret? Arranging to spend time away from her children. “I am not one of those mothers who live for having their brats with them all the time,” du Maurier later wrote.

5. Rebecca has been celebrated as an important piece of feminist literature.

Initially marketed as a romance novel with Rebecca as the villainous, menacing wife, feminist interpretations of du Maurier’s novel now see it as a critique of gender power dynamics and a sexist society’s fear of powerful women. Some feminist critics suggest du Maurier intended for Maxim de Winter to be the real villain—the controlling husband who not only murders Rebecca when she refuses to play the obedient wife, but also oppresses and alienates the second Mrs de Winter, marrying her after the most unromantic of proposals: “I am asking you to marry me, you fool.”

6. In 2007, to mark the centenary of Daphne du Maurier's birth, the BBC produced two documentaries on the author.

Daphne, directed by Amy Jenkins, was based on Margaret Forster's biography of du Maurier which revealed, for the first time, du Maurier’s bisexuality. For the second documentary, The Road to Manderley, director Rick Stein set off in search of the author's world in Cornwall.

7. Some scholars believe Rebecca's second Mrs de Winter reflected Daphne du Maurier's sexual fluidity.

Some critics have wondered to what extent the character of the second Mrs de Winter was influenced by the author’s complicated and fluid sexuality. As Margaret Forster points out in her 1993 biography, du Maurier didn't think her desire for women made her a lesbian. The word transgender was not yet in common use then, but the author saw herself as female on the outside “with a boy’s mind and a boy’s heart.”

In the novel, the narrator casts herself as an androgyne, a friend and companion to Maxim, "a sort of boy," and obsessively wonders about Rebecca’s absent body, how she wore her coat, the color of her lipstick, her scent “like the crushed petals of azaleas."

8. Rebecca’s Manderley was inspired by two real-life estates.

A photo of Milton Hall.Julian Dowse, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The secretive mansion which lends the novel its famous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," was partly inspired by Milton Hall [PDF], an estate near Cambridge that du Maurier spent time at as a child. When she wrote Rebecca nearly 20 years later, du Maurier told Milton Hall's owner that she based Manderley's interiors on her memories of the "big house feel" [PDF] of Milton during WWI.

The other estate du Maurier had in mind when imagining Manderley was the Menabilly estate in Fowey, Cornwall. Du Maurier fell in love with the house when she was 21 years old. Five years after Rebecca was published, she convinced its owners to lease her the home. But just like Manderley is forever lost to Mrs de Winter in a fire, du Maurier was forced to move out of Menabilly in 1969.

9. Daphne du Maurier has been accused of plagiarizing parts of Rebecca from Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco's book The Successor.

Brazilian critics have long argued that du Maurier plagiarized Rebecca from Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco's 1934 book, The Successor. While the two novels do share striking plot similarities, the allegations were never proven one way or another. Du Maurier also faced a lawsuit in 1947 for allegedly plagiarizing Edwina DeVin McDonald’s novel Blind Windows and the short story "I Planned to Murder my Husband." Du Maurier denied any charges.

10. During World War II, a copy of Rebecca was discovered among the possessions of two captured German spies.

British intelligence officers determined that a copy of Rebecca had been used by the Germans during World War II as a code key.

11. Rebecca has been adapted to a variety of media.

Rebecca had been adapted for film several times, but the best-known adaptation is Hitchcock’s 1940 film of the same name. It’s also been adapted to television a number of times, as a radio play, and an opera.