‘I am’ Nicolas Cage: Hollywood star lights up sleepy corner of WA

Nicolas Cage reportedly spent $400 at the Food of Asia supermarket in Busselton.

Nicolas Cage reportedly spent $400 at the Food of Asia supermarket in Busselton. Photo: Food of Asia

Just a few weeks ago, Hollywood icon and star of 110 feature films, Nicolas Cage, was signing red carpet autographs and conducting a Q&A in full leather jacket and pants at the Toronto International Film Festival.

On Monday, the Pig and Renfield national treasure touched down on the other side of the world at Perth International Airport in Western Australia with his Japanese wife Riko Shibata and daughter August Francesca (named after Cage’s father, August) for a month-long stint on the south-west coast to make a movie.

It’s not the first time the Margaret River and Busselton region has attracted film productions with its sweeping coastline, a never-ending choice of film locations, an expanding catalogue of professional crews and little or no interference.

In recent years, the local economy and tourism trade has benefited from Drift with Sam Worthington (2013), the 2020 karting movie Go! from the writer of Paper Planes and last year, the Tim Winton adaptation, Blueback.

But right now, it’s next level. It’s all about Nicolas Cage and Hollywood.

With little or no entourage and dressed in flashy black pants and jacket with smart tan leather boots, the Con Air redeemer headed straight to an Asian grocery store for some essentials before bunkering down.

The store is in Busselton, a small town two hours south of Perth with a population of 15,000 and a springtime temperature in the mid-20s, and filled with locals are ready to make Cage feel welcome before shooting starts in a few weeks.

“There’s a lot of excitement about a feature film shot on location here, ” Busselton mayor Grant Henley told The New Daily, adding Cage has attracted a huge social media following to see what he’s doing Down Under.

Cage plays an expat Aussie

Cage, 59, plays an expat Aussie surfer who returns home and has to handle a feud with the locals in independent psychological thriller, The Surfer.

With a cast and crew of more than 100 expected, the surfing mecca of Yallingup [30 kilometres west of Busselton] is where most of the filming will take place at Rabbit Hill, and that area will be “cordoned off for the duration of the filming”, Henley said.

“It’s always exciting to have a big Hollywood movie about surfing being produced around our wave-rich [south-west] coastline,” Surfing Western Australia’s Justin Majeks tells TND.

“You couldn’t ask for a more stunning backdrop and Nicolas Cage is massive star.”

The Filipino family who own Food of Asia in Busselton were beside themselves when Cage walked in and bought eggs and kimchi.

“Oh, you do look like Nicolas Cage,” shop owner Annie Liban told him at the counter.

“I am,” deadpanned Cage, the red Prada sunglass-wearing nephew of legendary film director Francis Ford Coppola.

And so the excitement of Hollywood coming to south-west WA spread quickly.

‘Academy Award winner cruising in for a snack in Busso’

Liban and her family – big fans – posted photos of Cage shopping in their store, buying about $400 in groceries.

According to The West Australian, Liban noticed the actor’s clothing on a hot day, and knew he was not a local.

“I said to my staff, ‘He can’t be Australian because he’s wearing boots and it’s so hot’,” Liban said.

She said the staff were “sceptical” as A-listers would usually be “bombarded with security guards”, but Cage and his family “just came in like any other tourist”.

“We thought, ‘Yep, they’re just rich tourists’,” Liban joked.

After posting photographs on the shop’s Facebook page, they received hundreds of online messages.

“Academy Award winner just cruising in for a snack in Busso,” wrote one Margaret River fan.

“Gee it was hot yesterday & he was in boots, jeans & thick jacket!! Must be still in jet lag. Time to switch to boardies & thongs & then he will blend in with the locals,” wrote another.

Lipan confirmed she gave him a free bag of oranges.

“Should’ve come and got my fav steamed dumplings today,” lamented another fan.

Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage’s movie about an obsessed Nicolas Cage fan, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, was an awards magnet. Photo: Twitter

Meanwhile, Mayor Henley has some key pointers for Cage while he’s on the job.

“If he wants to get into the method [acting, of which he is highly skilled] … board shorts are more de rigueur for this region,” Henley said.

Ask locals about sharks

“… take some advice from the locals [if he needs advice about sharks], there’s 35,000 humpback whales that swim past Yallingup this time of year as past of their migration to Antarctica.

“Most days you can see whales and dolphins.”

The mayor also suggested the Caves House Hotel or Yallingup Hotel for a quiet beer with the locals; swimming in the lagoons, plus lookouts and ancient caves to explore.

Henley said there was a new boutique Reading Cinemas complex in town boasting five flash cinemas if he needs time out to catch one of his latest flicks on the big screen.

In a CBS 60 Minutes interview in April, Cage revealed that even after making more than 100 movies over four decades, he still cares about every movie and never “phones it in”.

He candidly reveals Pig was probably his best, because it was the closest to playing the real “him”.

For now, Cage has to concentrate on finding an Aussie accent and a good surf coach to help him get into the role of The Surfer.

“I’m not sure how much surfing Cage has done, but the south-west of WA is world famous for its waves,” Henley said.

“The coast is raw and rugged just like the waves that crash into it.

“I’m sure the water safety will be high, but maybe he can take a few lessons in his time off between shooting.

“It’s never too late to start surfing.”

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