5 Fun Facts From The MANDY Q&A (Hosted by Kevin Smith)
Aside from seeing MANDY early, an added perk to the screening was an “exclusive” simulcast interview with Panos Cosmatos, Nicolas Cage, and Linus Roache hosted by Kevin Smith. It was an informative and entertaining discussion — especially when it comes to Nicolas Cage, who was in full form with his black leather pants, gold jacket and red-tinted sunglasses (you can hear the crowd eating up the dramatic flair of his Cageisms) — that was filled with lots of interesting tidbits from beyond the veil of the film and Nicolas Cage’s soul. Being generous, as we are at Viddy Well, we've decided to share it with you, naturally.
We’ve got the entire Q&A available below, but we also know that in this day and age, people just want the good stuff distilled (although, you should really give the whole convo a spin). So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to mine this 33 min discussion for the five things that we found most interesting.
CAUTION: There are minor spoilers below, so read on at your own risk!
Nicolas Cage was originally offered the role of Jeremiah Sand because he’s “the California Klaus Kinski”…
Nicolas Cage: I had seen Beyond the Black Rainbow, and first of all, I’ve got to thank Elijah Wood for this because he’s the one who put this all together. We were doing a picture in Nevada called The Trust, and we quickly bonded over our mutual enthusiasm for horror films. My take on that was more of an appreciation for the earlier, more archaic horror films from the Hammer collection, but he was more contemporary, and he asked me, “Have you seen Beyond the Black Rainbow?” And I said, “Yes, it’s been awhile…” He says, “Well, I have a script that I think you should read called MANDY, and Panos, you should meet him. He wants you to play Jeremiah Sand.”
So, I went out to Vancouver. I was working on another movie called Army of One, and I looked absolutely like Father Time. I had long white beard and was in full Gandalf mode with long white hair. And I sat down with Panos and he said, “I want you to play Jeremiah Sand.” And I said, “Well, why, Panos?” And he said that I seem more like the California Klaus Kinski, and I said, “Well, I am the California Klaus Kinski, but I want to play Red. I don’t want to play Jeremiah.”
So there was kind of a bit of a stalling, and this is a movie about youth versus age, and I was still looking like Cronos or Saturn or whomever, and I knew it wasn’t really going to gel, but then [Panos] said something that really fascinated me. He went into a tale about how when he was a child, he liked to watch action figures melt from some sort of heat — I don’t know if it was sunlight or some sort of a Bic lighter or whatever it was — but he liked to watch their faces melting. And I thought, “You know, this guy and I could probably make a great movie together.” And indeed, my face does melt in [this] movie, so we’re back at it…”
…but Cage thought he had the life experience to play Red (and the film helped get him out of a wheelchair).
Kevin Smith: Over the course of your career, you take big fucking swings. You seem brave as hell. Is there ever material that you run into like this, where you go, “Oh my lord, this goes beyond what I’m comfortable doing,” or do you read something like this, are you like, “Now I can get my fuck on?”
Nicolas Cage: Both experiences happen on this script because Jeremiah wasn’t the one that I would feel comfortable playing. I didn’t have the context or life experience to play that part; whereas, I did think I had the life — not that I’ve ever gone on a killing spree — but I did think that I had the life experience to go into the internal cauldron of my emotions and pull back something for Panos that would land in an authentic way.
I was recovering, still many years later, from the passing on of my father, and then I started going to photography, I was going through the failure of my third marriage, and so I had this understanding of loss. That all just went into the vessel of Red. On top of that, I was just coming out of a wheelchair [that I had been in] for three months, which really pissed me off, so there was a lot rage that I could apply to the character in that mode as well. But [the film] quickly got me out of the wheelchair and off the cane because I had to get up to speed with the fight sequences and stunt rehearsals and the rehabilitation. So there was no margin of error; I had to learn those moves now, get out of the chair, get off the cane, and start moving that leg. And [the film] really helped [me] and worked for me on many levels.
Kevin Smith: Therapy of all kinds, it sounds like.
Nicolas Cage: It was totally a therapeutic experience all the way around.
Kevin Smith: It sounds like you were able to put all of it in there and up there.
Nicolas Cage: Certainly. I knew Red would give me that; whereas, I didn’t think Jeremiah Sand would.
Linus Roach was apprehensive about the nudity.
Kevin Smith: Did it say in the script that he opens up his robe and goes dick out, or no?
Linus Roache: Well that’s an interesting point actually. It did say that in the script.
Kevin Smith: And you kept reading?
Linus Roache: Well, that’s partly when I thought, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
Kevin Smith: You were like, “No wonder Nic Cage said no.”
Linus Roache: [laughing] Yeah, right!
Nicolas Cage: I didn’t say it, you said it…
Linus Roache: But, I talked to Panos, and I said, “Do I have to do that bit?” And he said, “Oh man, I just write that to give you an idea of what it’s about. You don’t have to do that.” I was all, “Whew, great, I don’t have to do that, that’s fine. Let’s go, let’s do the movie.” But then as we were getting into the process, I was realizing the kind of filmmaker that Panos was and the kind of film we were making, and I thought if this was a woman being asked to do this… You know, like Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street. She said, ‘It’s right for my character to do this.’ [Then] I thought, “I’m shying away from something. This is right for the movie for [Jeremiah] to expose himself and for [Mandy] to laugh at him.” I think it’s just a good thing.
So, I went to Panos, and I said, “Listen man, if you want to do it, I’m not sure about the jerking off bit, but I’ll do the naked bit.” And he said, “Okay, we’ll just do it in one shot, and it’ll be very simple.” And that’s how we did it. I didn’t know if would end up in the movie, but—
Panos Cosmatos: I knew you’d come around…
Nicolas Cage finds filming dangerous stunts calming (and the production almost burned down a historical site while filming the ending).
Kevin Smith: This performance for you, aside from being psychological, was very physical as well. I’m a lazy person by nature, so the idea of someone being like, “Hey man, you’re gonna have to forge a goddamn axe.” I’d be like, “Fuck… Can’t we just have a conversation about it or something like that.” Do you enjoy the physical aspect of the process other than it pulled you of the wheelchair?
Nicolas Cage: Yeah, I think so. I’m one of those very strange people that when I drink a lot of coffee, I get tired and want to go to bed, and it relaxes me. When I do stunts, if I have to drive very fast, or go into a chainsaw fight with a man twice my size and know very well that one of us could get injured very quickly, I find that it relaxes me. I find that things slow down, and I kinda feel at home. So I do enjoy the physicality. I do enjoy moving into the fray, as opposed to running from the fray. And I think we experienced that while filming. There were a lot of moments that got pretty close.
One of them was [filming the ending]. All the wall in Jeremiah’s cavern were lined with a gasoline-type based oil, and they lit all on fire. I had to walk through the tunnel as everything was burning down around me, and I was like, “Wow, this is very calming. I kind of enjoy it.” Then, I noticed everyone running out of the studio we were filming in. There were fire hydrant looking things with orange foam coming out and people in gas masks, and I was still walking in the shot — not quite fast enough — but we all cleared the building fairly quickly.
Panos Cosmatos: I think we came really close to burning down a historical site. I was staring at the monitor, and I was watching basically the entire place be engulfed in flame, and I was like, “This looks so beautiful.” At a certain point, I looked up and the assistant director was like, “CUT! CUT!” Because it was literally being engulfed in flame.
Kevin Smith: Which every first AD loves to hear, “We’re gonna light this all thing on fire.” Also, nice to hear that when the world’s going to shit, you feel calm when everything’s on fire. You’re the guy I wanna be around when the fucking world falls apart.
Nicolas Cage: Well, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself, and I haven’t yet, but I hope someday I will because it doesn’t make sense to me either.
Panos unveils some of his inspirations.
Kevin Smith: An artist has to be fed many meals over the course of a lifetime to get to something like [MANDY]. Naturally, this is all you up there, but you got influences. Who influences a cat like you? What do I have to watch to get to that?
Panos Cosmatos: Well, I think the two movies that maybe made it click in my mind that I wanted to direct movies were Evil Dead 2 and After Hours by Scorsese, which both have these really heightened camera movements. Suddenly, something clicked for me where I was like, “Oh, the camera is like a paintbrush, or the camera is a tool that you use to express yourself, or you can create energy with it.” Somehow, suddenly, that became very clear to me, and that’s when I first started wanting to direct.
Before that, the movie I was really obsessed with was The Road Warrior. I taped it on Beta off of cable, and I watched it over and over, literally thousands of times. I was so obsessed with the idea of the post-apocalypse that I would take all my G.I. Joe figures and put tape on them and customize them and just play out the post-apocalypse.
Kevin Smith: Word is you melted their faces as well.
Panos Cosmatos: Yeah, and then melt their faces…
Check out the full Q&A below:
What do you think? Did you learn anything cool? How did you feel about the film? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!