Why Nicolas Cage Didn't Want To Star In Moonstruck With Cher

The movie "Moonstruck" starring Nicolas Cage and Cher was a surprise romantic comedy hit in 1987. In hindsight, it was easy for Cher to look back on the project fondly. "It was because we were always together. And we really got along," she told The New York Times in 2020 while reflecting on the movie. At the time of filming, the "Working Girl" singer was a megastar, but Cage was a relative unknown. Despite the difference in star power, though, Cher was adamant about who would be her romantic co-star. "There was no one for this film but Nicky!"

However, before being cast in the starring role as Loretta, even Cher had trepidations about joining the project, which was a departure from her earlier dramatic work. "I was a little frightened because there seemed to be all kinds of possibilities and all kinds of risks here," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1987. Once the "Mask" actor was secured as a lead, she told the film's director, Norman Jewison, why she wanted Cage cast as her romantic counterpart. "Nicolas struck her as a tormented soul," Jewison told the Los Angeles Times in 1988. 

After the film became a bona fide hit, Cage struggled to adjust to fame, perhaps living up to Cher's words. "I'm grateful that people seem to like the film, but the whole thing's a little bizarre," he told the Los Angeles Times. Despite the opportunity, Cage had apparently been reluctant to take the role of Ronny in the first place.

Why Nicolas Cage didn't want the part of Ronny

Although "Moonstruck" helped propel Nicolas Cage to movie star status, he was underwhelmed when he was first approached to play the part of Ronny. "I read the screenplay to 'Moonstruck' and thought, 'I would never pay money to see this film!'" he told the Baltimore Sun in 1992. Over the years, the "Leaving Las Vegas" actor has been vocal about how unwilling he was to star in the 1987 movie. "I really didn't want to make that," Cage told The Guardian in 2013. "I did not want to be in a big splashy romantic comedy with Cher," he added.

Before agreeing to work alongside the famous singer, Cage was at odds with his agent — they had differing ideas on the direction his career should take. "I want you to look handsome! Do 'Moonstruck!'" the actor told USA Today in 2021 while recalling a conversation with his former agent. "I wanted to be punk rock — I didn't want to do a schmaltzy movie about opera," Cage said. Even though he had to be convinced to work on the rom-com, he was ultimately happy with the end result. "The truth is, I love 'Moonstruck.' Now that I'm older, I see the value in (it)," he told USA Today.

According to Cage, the only reason he finally agreed to work on "Moonstruck" was to convince his agent to allow him to film another project, which wound up being one of the actor's most eccentric performances to date.

Nicolas Cage ate a live bug for his next role

On the heels of filming "Moonstruck," Nicolas Cage used his newfound fame to work on a passion project, a film about a New York City executive who becomes unhinged and believes he has turned into a vampire. "I was thrilled that my next movie after 'Moonstruck' was 'Vampire's Kiss.' But only a few people got 'Vampire's Kiss,'" Cage told the Baltimore Sun in 1992. While starring in the rom-com opposite Cher cemented Cage's status as a Hollywood star, "Vampire's Kiss" cemented his reputation as one of Tinsel Town's most outlandish actors.

There's a scene in "Vampire's Kiss" where Cage's Peter Loew eats a cockroach — during filming, the actor decided he would consume a live bug on camera. "I wanted to come up with something that would work with the vampire mythology and also create a visceral experience for the audience where it almost broke the fourth wall down," he told The Washington Post in 1990 while discussing his decision.

Eating a live bug was only one of the interesting artistic choices Cage made while filming "Vampire's Kiss." He wanted the role to be as authentic as possible, including the scene where his character is bitten by a bat. "It was important to me that the bat was a real bat, and I didn't want this remote control bat, and I kind of went off my rocker a little bit," he said on the DVD commentary for the movie, per Film School Rejects.