Disney’s National Treasure opens tomorrow. Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, an archaeologist and treasure-hunter who discovers that a map to a priceless bounty lies on the back of the Declaration of Independence. To protect the country’s most sacred document and uncover the extraordinary treasure to which it leads, Gates must confront a series of puzzles, secret codes and hidden messages from America’s past.
Cage spoke about making the film, the Founding Fathers and turning 40:
What attracted you to National Treasure?
Well I think that the very thing that made me trepedacious was the same thing that intrigued me, which is the idea of a man going in and stealing the Declaration of Independence.
I thought, “Well this doesn’t seem very plausible. And a how can this actually be pulled off?” But Jerry Bruckheimer brings in a great group of technical advisors who do the research and try to figure out exactly how to make it work within the context of the film, and seem as believable as possible.
And I got to do it in a tuxedo, so that was interesting for me as well (laughs).
….I think you have to give yourself over to the context of the movie and go along for the ride, which is what I did. I saw it for the first time the other night with the audience and I was very happy with the way it seem to work logically. I enjoyed it. It has a certain spirit which is reminiscent with Indiana Jones, but it parts company with Indiana Jones in that there is nothing supernatural about National Treasure.
There is enough there that we can wonder about. We can think about it in terms of, does this treasure really exist? And indeed several highly intelligent people who believe it exists have risked their life looking for this very treasure
Do you see yourself as bold as this character?
Without going into too much detail, I have had my obsessions and he certainly is a character who is obsessed about this treasure, the marvelous templar treasure, and has devoted himself to figuring out exactly what he needs to do to find it in the face of great ridicule. I think that I have been obsessed over the years with where I can go with acting, or how I can challenge myself with that, if that answers your question.
What did you work on in rehearsal?
Well I think what we did in the rehearsal process was tried to discover the tone of the movie. With all of Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies you try to tweak things on the way, which can be nerve racking, but can also be very electrifying and spontaneous. You might come out with an accidental discovery that works; you can also fall off the high wire and on your face and completely embarrass yourself. Fortunately with Jerry, is that he surrounds you with people who are as good as it gets in the business. Great actors, the best writers and terrific editors, so you are pretty safe.
Any thoughts on the Founding Fathers, who play an important role in the film?
It’s nice to remember what the founding fathers did, I mean they were geniuses and its amazing that they were alive at the same time and knew one another and debated and shook hands and created philosophies and rules by which we still live today. I still think that there are things we can learn from them still, go back and review that and maybe that could be helpful.
You’re turning 40, will that change you in any way?
I always add a year to myself so I am prepared for the next birthday. So when I was 39 I was already 40 and now I’m 41. But I’m feeling — I don’t want to say happy because that is a fragile word — but I am definitely content. I am hopeful about the future, although I do spend most of my time thinking about the present. (Laughs)
Thanks Nick, and 40 is the new 30, remember?
Ogle the stomping trailer (WM) (Real) (QuickTime) and be edified and amazed by the SmartTrailer, which allows you to select from nine special features delving into such subjects as “The Treasure Is Real” “Templar Knights” “Masons” “Ben Franklin” and “Declaration of Independence.”
Walt Disney Pictures
November 19, 2004
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel, Stewart Finlay, David Dayan Fisher, Christopher Plummer, Don McManus, Mark Pellegrino
DIRECTOR: Jon Turteltaub
WRITTEN BY: Jim Kouf
PRODUCERS: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turteltaub and Christina Steinberg, Charles Segars and Oren Aviv