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Inside Nicolas Cage’s Dramatic Hollywood Transformation: See Photos of the Actor Then and Now

Growing up in a family full of directors and movie stars, Nicolas Cage was determined to lead his own successful career in Hollywood. The Pig actor changed his last name from Coppola to Cage before he made his film debut in the 1982 film The Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Since then, he has become a master of the big screen and undergone a dramatic transformation in the spotlight. 

Nicolas got his big break as a teen playing a heartthrob in the 1983 film Valley Girl. His uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, enlisted him to star in Rumble Fish that same year. Other breakout roles in The Cotton Club and The Boy in Blue followed before Nicolas landed the role of Ronny Cammareri in the 1987 film Moonstruck. The California native earned his first Golden Globe nomination and critical acclaim with this role. 

Nicolas won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor after his portrayal of Ben Sanderson in the 1995 drama Leaving Las Vegas. Like his cousins, Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola, the Ghost Rider star also became a director. He made his directorial debut with Sonny in 2002. Nicolas picked up another Academy Award nomination starring alongside Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton in Adaption that same year.

The Saturn Films owner saw box office success with the 2004 Disney film National Treasure and its 2007 sequel. In his years of dominating the action and adventure genres, Nicolas became known for his unique acting style, dubbing it “Nouveau Shamanic.”

“It allows me to be open to flashpoints that give you answers about how you want to play a scene,” he said about his acting technique in a February 2020 interview with NME. “It’s a matter of me being open to the idea that anything that I have experienced will give me something in an almost trance-like state where I can create something authentic that doesn’t feel forced or even feel like acting.”

In addition to his film career, the Face/Off scene-stealer found love several times throughout his time in the spotlight. Nicolas took on the role of fatherhood when he welcomed his first son, Weston Coppola Cage, with actress Christina Fulton in 1990. He was married to actress Patricia Arquette from 1995 to 2001. Nicolas was married to his second wife, Lisa Marie Presley, for three months in 2002. 

The Knowing star welcomed his second son, Kal-El, with his third wife, Alice Kim, in 2005. Their divorce was finalized in 2016. Nicolas married Erika Koike in March 2019. Their marriage ended four days later when he filed for an annulment. In February 2021, the Oscar winner married Riko Shibata. A rep shared with People in a January 2022 statement that the couple were “elated” to be expecting their first child together. 

Scroll to see Nicolas’ dramatic transformation over the years from Hollywood to fatherhood.