"THAT'S THE FILM THAT MADE ME WANT TO MAKE MOVIES"
I hadn't seen this before, but stumbled upon it just now. It's an article by HitFix's Drew McWeeny from March 2009, in which McWeeny visits the set of Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass. We have previously noted Vaughn's love of some of De Palma's gangster movies, but here McWeeny notes the resemblance of the mask worn by Nicolas Cage in Kick-Ass to that of the Phantom in Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. The mask complements a costume that was inspired by Batman's, and both mark a change from the comic book version of the Big Daddy costume, which was more a sort of ski mask and a trench coat.
In McWeeny's article, he writes about seeing Cage walk onto the set in costume. "My first thought when I see him is Phantom Of The Paradise," writes McWeeny. "The costume looks like someone's homemade attempt to duplicate the black-sculpted body armor look of the new Batman movies, but the mask, especially when you see it in profile, is absolutely a nod to Phantom. There's no missing that crazy pointed beak face thing. So just seeing Cage, I start to smile. It's not what Big Daddy looked like in the comics, and Cage isn't trying to look paunchy or fat the way the character was drawn. Instead, he looks like a guy who takes this all really, really seriously."
Watching Cage working on the set, McWeeny notes that his character seems to be talking, in costume, like Adam West, who played Batman in the '60s TV series. This leads to a very interesting couple of conversations between the two. Here's an excerpt from McWeeny's article:
Now, keep in mind... before I arrived on set, I was sent an e-mail explaining that I had full access to the set, but I was going to have to keep away from Nic Cage while there because his working process demanded it. Okay. Fair enough. Knowing that, though, I was a little surprised to see Cage walking towards me, taking off the helmet, right after Matthew called cut. I thought he was going to yell at me for laughing during the take, no matter how quiet I was, and for a moment, I envisioned Cage actually having me thrown off the set while he was working.
Instead, he put out his hand and introduced himself. I did the same, and he asked what it was that made me laugh. I could feel Matthew watching me, curious to see what I'd say, so I explained that the choice to use Adam West's cadence was so crazy but so inspired that the laughter was involuntary.
"And I gotta say," I continued, "I love the 'Phantom of the Paradise' mask." He gave me a sharp look, then looked at the mask again and smiled.
"You think so, eh?" He held it sideways for me, so the profile was visible again. Unmistakable. "Do you know that film well?"
"I do," I said. "It's one of my faves. I love De Palma, but that's one of his that I have a special affection for."
"That's the film that made me want to make movies," Nic replied.
After another take, Cage comes back to discuss with McWeeny the possible influence of Phantom on Darth Vader:
As Vaughn called cut so they could move the camera for the next round of shots, Nic walked back over to where I was. I could see he had something on his mind, something I assume he'd been thinking about for a while.
"Okay. Let me ask you something. What year was 'Phantom of the Paradise' released?"
"Uhhh... 1974, I think?"
"And what year did 'Star Wars' come out?"
"Do you think the design of the Phantom had any influence on the design of Darth Vader?"
"Well, sure. All in black. Helmet. Breathing device on the chest. Cape. De Palma was a friend of George's back then. I can totally see that being an influence."
He smiled and, without saying anything else, headed back onto the set. I felt like I'd passed a test of some sort.