Hard-working Nicolas Cage stars in Crusade thriller

Tue Jan 4, 2011 7:06am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Nicolas Cage is working hard because he has to, but his latest turn as a mediaeval knight in "Season of the Witch" is about more than just paying the bills -- it is a welcome throwback to his childhood.

The supernatural thriller set in plague-stricken 14th century Europe opens in British and U.S. theatres on Friday, and Cage fans will see the "Leaving Las Vegas" star in the unfamiliar surroundings of a period drama.

"For some reason I kind of got swept up in a certain modern and contemporary style of acting and drama, like 'Bad Lieutenant'," the 46-year-old Oscar winner told Reuters in a recent interview to discuss the film.

Season of the Witch follows "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," Werner Herzog's cop drama in which Cage plays the kind of emotionally intense, borderline unhinged character for which he has won most acclaim.

"This (Season of the Witch) was my first chance to really go into the source, the childhood.

"When I was living in California ... my father built this wooden castle for me as a boy and I remember I really got in touch with my imagination there -- I was a sorcerer or I was a knight and because of the castle ... my mind would automatically go toward mediaeval things."

Another reason for taking on the role of the war-weary Crusader Behmen was a change of scenery from the stifling Louisiana interiors of Bad Lieutenant. Season of the Witch took the cast and crew to Hungary and the Austrian Alps.

"I wanted to be in nature, I wanted to be on a horse and in the snow and that's one of the wonderful things you can do as a film actor, you can literally just snap your fingers and be in another dimension and be in a forest."   Continued...

<p>Cast member Nicolas Cage signs autographs in New York in this July 6, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>