Nicolas Cage Can Explain It All

Fifteen minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, into a tranquil gated community, up a red-brick driveway, past the palm trees that touch the Mojave Desert sky, through the veil that separates the astral plane, and here he is: the man they say gained and lost a $150 million fortune; who owned castles in Europe and the most haunted house in America and the Shah of Iran’s Lamborghini and two albino king cobras and a rare two-headed snake; who had to return his prized dinosaur skull upon learning it was stolen from Mongolia; who went on an epic quest for the actual Holy Grail; and who—when his singular, fantastical life eventually comes to an end—will be laid to eternal rest in a colossal white pyramid tomb in New Orleans.

Nicolas Cage greets me at his door, wearing a kung fu suit.

“This is my Wing Chun kung fu suit,” he explains, waving me in and handing me a mug of coffee. “I studied with my sifu, Jim Lau, when I was 12 years old, because I was a big Bruce Lee fan. And so it’s like my uniform to relax in.”

His voice is a low, contemplative drawl that imbues every word with a sense of philosophical magnitude. To hear Nicolas Cage state an opinion about his preferred loungewear is to hear anyone else reflect on the cosmos.

Nicolas Cage cover the April issue of GQ. To get a copy, subscribe to GQ.

Jacket, $375, and pants, $225, by Diesel. T-shirt, $42 for pack of three, by Calvin Klein Underwear. Belt (price upon request) and belt buckle, $3,750, by Kieselstein-Cord. Boots, $1,295, by Nick Fouquet x Lucchese. Sunglasses, $418, by Prada. Ring, his own.

“I’m still decorating, so excuse me,” he says, as we stroll through his home. An imposing mahogany cuckoo clock chimes on the half-hour. Mighty bronze dragons guard the hall. Lacquered arms holding torches sprout from eggplant purple walls, lighting the way. Look down and you have a Persian rug ripped out of a Lisa Frank coloring book. Look up, you have a crystal chandelier and an original Creature From the Black Lagoon poster. Straight ahead: a prince! Specifically, a huge photograph of Prince roller-skating in hot pants and a Batman tank top. At the heart of the house is a charcoal drawing of his late father, August Floyd Coppola, who looms over the fireplace, and everything else.

Cage moved into this place last summer but settled in Vegas back in 2006. He came for the state taxes (there are none), though he soon learned to love the small-town feel and the ability to drop off the radar. “In some ways,” he says, “this move saved me.”

His best friend rests in a nearby chair, sizing me up. He has the regal bearing of an emperor, with an elegant mane of gray hair and wise golden eyes and a luxurious tail and, okay, yes, he is a cat. A Maine coon named Merlin. “He’s so kind and so loving,” Cage tells me, more than once. “Sometimes he puts his arm around me when he’s sleeping, and I think it’s my wife, and I go, ‘Oh, Riko.’ And then it’s Merlin.”

The owner of his favorite local pet store died recently, so Cage scooped up some of the leftover animals stuck in limbo. A couple turtles, a fish with a bum eye that he felt bad for. They live in an array of aquariums lining his kitchen and bar counters (his Oscar is somewhere up there, too). “My job is to care for them, make sure they’re happy and safe,” he says as we stop to watch a freshwater turtle wade around. “Eventually, I’ll have to donate him, like I donated my two-headed snake to the Audubon Zoo.”

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