Nicolas Cage brought his signature craziness to the Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance press conference at the San Diego Comic-Con this afternoon. The actor talked cobras, compasses and the origin of the word weird and, erm, there was some Johnny Blaze stuff in there too.
Amid the kookiness, Cage did promise fans the second Ghost Rider film – directed by Crank duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor – is a departure from the lighter tone of the first and closer to the comic book series.
“When I did the first one I wanted it to be like a Grimms’s fairy tale; scary but still something you can enjoy,” he said.
“This one, with (directors) Mark (Neveldine) and Brian (Taylor), is really going into the wonderful bliss of the nightmare imagination.
“I think that there’s a lot of humor to be found in the sarcasm and darkness.
“You talk to any paramedic and they survive by developing a pretty off-kilter sense of humor.
“I think Blaze has that. He’s dealing with the fact his head goes on fire, for years now.
“When you have a lot of comic book movies being made everyday, most of them are good boys so it’s nice to have a few bad boys.”
‘Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance’ is directed by the team behind the ‘Crank’ series, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. It sees Johnny Blaze (Cage) hiding out in Eastern Europe when he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form. The film also stars Idris Elba (“The Wire”) and Johnny Whitworth (‘Limitless’).
Co-director Brian Taylor said he and Neveldine “didn’t really consider the first movie at all“.
“We wanted the darker version the fans wanted,” he said.
“He’s not a superhero that wears tights, he’s a dark entity.
“We like the stuff Garth Ennis did, that was a lot of inspiration for us.
“It looks like he crawled out of an opening in hell and into your face.
“Immediately you’re going to know you’re in a different world.
“It’s got dark humor, it’s got scary stuff, it’s kind of what we’ve just always done.”
Taylor said Cage really inhibited the darker version of his character on set and even “scared” other actors when he was in make up.
“The first time he showed up as Ghost Rider on set there was this silence and creeped-out feeling,” he said.
“He (Nic) wouldn’t talk, he was very quiet and he had these big black glass eyes in.
“At one point Mark said to him ‘did those things hurt?’ and Nic said ‘it’s personal.”
Neveldine said he wanted to bring “a lot of action” to the movie and they tried to use as little CGI as possible.
“We come from a background where we didn’t have the money to do CGI,” he said.
“We approached this by using CGI to enhance the film.”
Taylor added: “Someone in a computer lab in New Zealand didn’t come up with what the Ghost Rider is. It’s an amazing performance. We tried to put our actors in peril as much as possible. If it looks dangerous, then it probably is.”
That attitude made co-star Idris Elba – who plays Ghost Rider’s “pretty cool sidekick” – a little uncomfortable.
“When I was 19 I fell off a motorcycle and never wanted to get on one again until this movie,” he said.
“But Brian was like ‘you’re doing these stunts.’
“I was a fan of their work and what I like about their films is you feel the momentum.”
Taylor said he and Neveldine were “nervous” because it’s their “biggest film” and that ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance’ is an “audience film.” He went on to say he and Cage had discussed it and Ghost Rider would beat every other superhero in a fight; “even Superman.” Cage added: “Because he has the Penitent stare and can look at you, everyone’s done something wrong. He can make you look at it over and over and over again, like the internet.“