Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Lily Mo Sheen talk meta madness of ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” a meta-film in which Nicolas Cage stars in the leading role as none other than Nicolas Cage himself, premiered at South by Southwest on March 12. The film’s version of Cage is a struggling actor, desperate to figure out his identity in Hollywood and in his personal life. When Cage gets wrapped up in a high-stakes CIA mission involving a mysterious billionaire and super fan Javi (Pedro Pascal), the line separating his real life from his life as a fictional action star begins to blur. 

The Daily Texan attended the SXSW premiere of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” where stars Nicolas Cage (“Mandy” “Adaptation.”), Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian” “Wonder Woman 1984”) and Lily Mo Sheen (“Click”) discussed the ambitious project. 

The Daily Texan: You’ve done so many different roles all over the spectrum of genre, performances and types of film. What boxes need to be checked for you to sign on to something? 

Nicolas Cage: I look at myself as a student of film and performance. The idea is — can I learn something from the experience? Is it new? Does it scare me? I’ve always felt that the very thing you are afraid of, within reason, is the very thing you should go towards. I can’t think of anything more terrifying as an actor to play someone named Nic Cage. Because, as actors, we want to hide, we want to disappear in characters. We don’t want to put it out there and break the fourth wall. So that was new. I’ve never done anything that meta before. I’ve done movies that are meta about Charlie Kaufman but none about myself. That was what drew me in — I was scared of it. 

DT: You are about to play Dracula. Was that scary too?

NC: That one I haven’t really started shooting yet. I’m going to start on Monday. I’m excited about that because I’ve seen all the different versions, all the different vampire films. I have some good ideas about that one, and I can’t wait to start. 

DT/Letterboxd: Did you approach your character as a superfan much like someone from your own fanbase? 

Pedro Pascal: I think I got the part because I am a big fan of Nicolas Cage. I had a meeting with the writers and directors of the movie, and I knew more about Nicolas Cage movies than they did. 

DT: What’s your advice to students studying acting? 

Lily Mo Sheen: I’m a bad person to ask! I would say definitely get the skill set, but make it your own. Don’t stick too hard to the structure and technique because, ultimately at the end of the day, it’s all about the connection you have and the moment with the other person. It’s so important to get a foundation at acting school. Just grind it out. It’s horrible to hear that from me. 

DT: Any stories from the set that stick out to you?LMS: It was my first movie! I had a lot of questions for Nic, and he was so forthcoming. It was really surprising. He answered all my questions. I love this movie “Audition.” It’s like a horror movie. I’ve never seen anyone who knows “Audition” as well as Nic does. So, that was a cool moment. We are both messed up in the head!