The comedy-drama stars Oscar winner Cage as an academic who starts appearing in people's dreams.
In Dream Scenario, Nicolas Cage plays a bald, schlubby college professor named Paul Matthews, who becomes famous after he starts appearing in the dreams of people around the globe. Outside the film, the actor also made his way into the dreamscape of writer-director Kristoffer Borgli prior to the start of shooting.
"It was just days before he came to set," the Oslo-born filmmaker recalls in an interview with EW. "My dream was that he had changed his mind about the [character's] baldness and that he wanted to have a Korean pop star hairstyle, which was very big and spiky. So, he came to set with a K-pop hairdo and said, 'This is the only way I'll play the character.' I was forced to make the movie with him looking like that."
In real life, Borgli found Cage to be a much more amenable collaborator, but admits he needed a beat to believe that the much meme-ified Oscar winner was a flesh and blood human being.
"I almost did not believe that he was a real person, if that makes sense," says the director, whose Dream Scenario cast also includes Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows, and Dylan Baker. "Then meeting him, he got solidified as a real person, and that real person was a thoughtful, intelligent man who goes to great lengths for his parts."
The lengths in this case included the actor looking anonymous and un-Cage-like. As Borgli points out, "The challenge for me was that I had written a person who would blend in and not get noticed, and then we cast the most recognizable and naturally charismatic person on the planet. We had to do some things to insure that we weren't distracted by Nick Cage. It was his idea to make him bald, which I appreciated. I had certain ideas about his clothing style, and then I also made a prosthetic nose that he wore on set every day, which is not too far away from his real nose, but just enough to make this uncanny feeling of a person you haven't seen before."
Borgli's inspirations when writing the film included the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The influence is particularly noticeable in the film when Cage's now-notorious character is photographed with a metal glove similar to the one worn by Freddy Krueger.
The director explains that he was interested in taking a horror movie concept out of the genre and "placing it in our current culture [to] see how that feels for the character, but also how his family responds to it, how it affects his work life, how the culture at large responds to it, how capitalism responds to it." He adds, "It became a genre blend, a high-concept horror idea meets a social satire."
Speaking of horror, the producers of Dream Scenario include director Ari Aster. Did the man who brought us the modern genre classics Hereditary and Midsommar have any suggestions about the movie's script?
"Yeah, he thought that everyone should die at the end," Borgli says. "That's the one thing that I pushed back against." Sounds about right... or is Borgli joking? "I will never reveal!" the director replies, with a laugh.
Finally, does Borgli know if Cage has ever dreamed about him? "That I don't know," the director says. "He has not told me that he has. I don't know if I fit in. I've heard that he has some pretty interesting and unusual dreams."
A24 is releasing Dream Scenario in theaters this weekend.
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