| Actor Nicolas Cage with Matchstick Men co-star Alison Lohman in Venice on Tuesday. (AFP)
Venice, Sept. 2 (Reuters): Blinking, grunting and chain-smoking, Hollywood star Nicolas Cage took the stage in Venice today as a paranoid con artist in Ridley Scott’s new feature film Matchstick Men.
The movie, which premiered out of competition at the 60th annual Venice Film Festival, was well-received by critics and public alike who hailed Cage’s performance as the offbeat Roy — a con man with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“We’re making a film that in a lot of ways is funny, but I never wanted to make his condition funny,” Cage said at a press conference today.
“I wanted to present the character with love, so that anyone who would see this person would get beyond the tics and the phobias and see the man.”
In Matchstick Men, Roy and his protegé Frank, played by Sam Rockwell, are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when Roy’s teenage daughter disrupts his plan and his carefully ordered life.
Whenever Roy gets upset, his tics and obsession with smoking and cleanliness kick in. Cage said he added the tics to the original script to help convey Roy’s compulsive character.
The movie is a departure for Scott from some of the big blockbuster movies like Gladiator and Hannibal that have made him one of the most-wanted directors in Hollywood.
“He’s not the sort of filmmaker who wants to get calcified doing one type of movie,” Cage said.
“In many ways I feel he’s a kindred spirit to me, in that we both like to not lock ourselves into any particular genre,” he said, pointing out that Scott has also made more intimate films like Thelma & Louise about two women on the run.
Cage himself has starred in everything from action flick Con Air to Leaving Las Vegas, a tale of a self-destructive alcoholic that won him an Oscar for best actor.
Cage, the nephew of filmmaking legend Francis Ford Coppola, was the talk of the town when he presented the film in Scott’s absence.
But Hollywood heart-throb George Clooney, in the lagoon city for the premier of the Coen brothers’ new feature Intolerable Cruelty, was expected to steal the limelight at an exclusive dinner for the stars this evening.
More than 140 films will be screened during the festival, many of them world premieres, but only 20 movies are facing off in the main competition for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded on Saturday.