In early December 2006, Cage announced at the Bahamas International Film Festival that he planned to curtail his future acting endeavors to pursue other interests.
On The Dresden Files for the Sci-Fi Channel, Cage is listed as the executive producer.
He cites James Dean as the key inspiration for his career, saying, "I started acting because I wanted to be James Dean. Nothing affected me—no rock song, no classical music—the way Dean affected me in Eden. I was like, 'That's what I want to do'." By this stage of his career, Coppola had already directed Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Robert De Niro.
To avoid the appearance of nepotism as Coppola's nephew, he changed his name early in his career to Nicolas Cage, inspired in part by the Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage.
However, Cage dropped out of production shortly afterwards because he felt that he did not have enough time to prepare for the role and director Darren Aronofsky preferred Mickey Rourke for the lead part.
Rourke would go on to receive an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
Despite these successes, most of his lower-profile films have performed poorly at the box office compared to his mainstream action/adventure roles.
The suspense thriller 8mm (1999) is considered a cult film.
Cage had a small role in the film, which received poor reviews and a short run in a limited number of theatres.The film was very well received by critics, holding a rating of 87% positive reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.Cage received lauds for his performance, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writing "Herzog has found his ideal interpreter, a performer whose truth lies deep in the artifice of performance: ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage, at his finest." In 2010, Cage starred in the period piece Season of the Witch, playing a 14th-century knight transporting a girl accused of causing the Black Plague to a monastery, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, in which he played the sorcerer.He earned his second Academy Award nomination for his performance as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation (2002).
He also directed the film Sonny (2002), for which he was nominated for Grand Special Prize at Deauville Film Festival.In 2009, Cage starred in the science fiction thriller Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas.