Even though there are many Twitter accounts that claim to be Nicolas Cage, act as a catalyst for his fans, or purely strive to corner the market on pictures of his face on the bodies of other celebrities, there is no actual Nicolas Cage presence on Twitter. Which made it especially hard to track him down when rumors of his frequenting Downtown Las Vegas bars began surfacing, a departure from his usual comfort zone of quiet neighborhood Summerlin.
This would be so much easier if he were a couple decades younger. Young movie stars love social media. I could bump into Kardashians all day. But Cage has gone on record saying the point of living in Las Vegas is to live simply, away from the camera-per-capita analytics of LA. But I didn’t want to unsimplify his life. All I wanted to do was party. Party with Nicolas Cage. See his Las Vegas and compare it to my own. But I didn’t know where he was.
Cage spent February shooting scenes for a film called The Trust, which stars Cage and Elijah Wood as corrupt cops working the evidence room of the LVMPD. There’s a vault full of drug money, a heist, gaunt/adorable singer Sky Ferreira, a targeted October release date and (sh*t, why not?) Jerry Lewis. So far scenes have been shot at the Peppermill and the Riviera, a couple of Downtown houses and a big production warehouse near Flamingo Road, as far as my anecdotal research has yielded.
And so, tonight, as I sit outside the big production warehouse, I am a hunter. A paparazzo without a camera, a rebel without a very good cause, and it’s cold out. The mountains are white-capped and the production crewmen loitering outside are wearing big black jackets and my newsfeed is all snowplows this and global warming that. I don’t know if or when Cage will stick his head out the door and at least validate my search, so I go through my list of rumored locations around town, the same location rumors everyone else has, but driven by a little more research. He’s been seen at a fancy athletic club in Summerlin (not unusual because Cage has been living in Las Vegas for a few years), enjoys the Italian offerings of Parma in the Summerlin Gateway shopping center and Siena on West Sahara, and favors Barolo reds—so, anywhere that might serve northern Italian wines without too much fanfare.
I go back to every hunting maxim I’ve ever heard: Think like your prey. But which Cage am I looking for? Is he Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas Cage, which would mean checking all the gnarly dives near the Strip? Benjamin Gates in National Treasure Cage, which would mean a place with a lot of puzzles and, I guess, tunnels? Castor Troy/Sean Archer in Face/Off Cage, which is just anywhere that John Travolta would go? The man has so many personalities. It’s like trying to track a grizzly bear that likes the north woods but also goes rollerblading in Santa Monica.
I check Frankie’s Tiki Room, an alleged favorite among The Trust production crew. I scan for an alligator-skin jacket before the bouncer tells me he hasn’t seen Cage in a while, but if I’m looking for Elijah Wood he saw him a couple times a week ago. I check the Peppermill because, even though it was just on the shoot list, maybe he returned because he was feeling particularly Ben Sandersonish and needed to slump beneath the neon glow of the jungle lounge. But no one working has seen him. As a last-ditch option I check the Griffin, because Michael Shannon used to hang out here when he was shooting a couple months ago, and maybe there’s a still-active Facebook group for the cast of 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans where they discuss places to grab beers after wrap in Vegas. Who knows? The point is, he isn’t at any of these spots.
And so I sit in the car, melting into my headrest every time the security van drives by, its busted headlight winking in the darkness, waiting for some sort of action. And while there are an astonishing amount of ponytails bobbing between a satellite building and the main warehouse, I don’t see Ghost Rider anywhere. Maybe one day, long after The Trust wraps, I’ll find myself in Summerlin, a real lust for chicken parmigiana and Barolo holding court in my soul, and I’ll pick one of Cage’s haunts. All of a sudden he’ll walk in, sunglasses and ’gator leather and all. And people will whisper. And the staff will be careful not to make him uncomfortable when he picks up his spaghetti alle vongole to go. And when he turns for the door, I’ll make eye contact. And before I can help it, I’ll blurt out, “I really liked you in Raising Arizona.”