Nicolas Cage Was Never Paid For His Iconic Oscar-Winning Movie

Nicolas Cage Was Never Paid For His Iconic Oscar-Winning Movie
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Lumiere Pictures clearly thought that an Oscar was a good enough payment for Leaving Las Vegas star Nicolas Cage.

It may come as a shock, but both the star and director of Leaving Las Vegas got nothing for their work in the movie that formed their careers. Director Mike Figgis shared during his appearance on It Happened in Hollywood podcast that Lumiere Pictures hadn't paid him and Cage on the pretext of the movie not going into profit.

Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 drama movie based on the semi-autobiography written by John O'Brien who committed suicide shortly after signing away the film rights to the novel. Mike Figgis acted as both the writer and director of the movie. Nicolas Cage played an alcoholic man who, after losing everything he valued in his life, decided to set on a self-destructive journey to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. However, in Sin City, the protagonist met a sex worker who changed his view of life.

The movie was unique in many ways. It had a small $4 million budget which required some sacrifices on the part of the director and actors, from using super 16 mm instead of the usual 35 mm to filming some scenes on the Las Vegas strip in one take because they didn't have needed permits. However, turned out that both Mike Figgis and Nicolas Cage had made a far bigger sacrifice for the movie than anyone could have imagined. They worked for free.

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Figgis said Lumiere Pictures promised both the director and star a $100,000 salary. But they never came through on their promise explaining that the movie "never went into profit." Though it is disappointing behavior, Figgis doesn't hold a grudge against the studio.

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

Leaving Las Vegas has become a turning point in Figgis and Cage's careers. Highly praised by critics and the audience, the movie was nominated for and won numerous awards. Cage received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and his only Oscar. Figgis also received Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.