Going West with Patrick Cage
When talking about actors it's unusual to find someone born and raised in Los Angeles – someone who is from the hub of all things Hollywood and film and is a true native. This isn't the case for Patrick Cage. He’s an LA born actor on the edge of great things.
His break into film began by following his mom around on modelling sets when he was just a child. “She was a model in the nineties and had a lot of friends in the entertainment industry who told her 'Your kid has something, you should see if you can get him an agent or get him into acting'.” By age seven, Patrick was signed and auditioning for roles in film and TV.
An accomplished musician, Cage wasn't always dead set on acting. He seriously considered architecture during a brief hiatus from his acting career, but eventually his love for performing bought him back to the silver screen. “There was a point where I wasn't pursuing acting strongly, then I got back into it at fifteen and I decided to make it a career.” Since then it's obvious to see his dedication within his broad body of work. “I’ve definitely had some low moments, those lulls and little struggles, but I've never gotten to that point where I thought, ‘I'm not going to do this anymore.”
When preparing for a role, Patrick tells me that he approaches it from two sides. “I try to understand the script and the world of the script as much as possible, then I break down the character and how he feels within that world.” More recently Cage has been exploring different techniques. “I've been trying to improv more, and just kind of live in the moment more. The process changes for every single role you do."
Cage has appeared in an impressive list of shows, including NBC's hit drama series “This Is Us” and the addictively funny comedy “Jane the Virgin”. But it's his most current role in Westworld that has Cage feeling the full brevity of what it's like to be on a show with such an intense following. When asked about the experience on set, Patrick immediately brightens in tone. “It was crazy, I mean there's definitely pressure, excitement and joy. It was really cool because I was a huge fan of season one.” He carried that spirit into the audition room. “I was completely overjoyed when I first got the audition, I was like, ‘Oh my god an opportunity to be on the show!’ It had me freaking out.”
Freaking out or not, Patrick booked the role without fully knowing what his role exactly was on the series. “They were just dummy sides. The audition piece had nothing to do with what I actually did on the show. It was just an audition like any other. I went in for it and when I came out, I looked at my phone and it was eleven eleven. I closed my eyes, made a wish and said 'I'm going to book this'. After that I just kind of left it there.”
His cast mates were as friendly in person as they are on the show's surreal play land that is Westworld. We're talking season one kind of friendly, not the mayhem that season two has unleashed. It made the introduction to the strange and futuristic world more welcoming for Cage. “It's so amazing on that set, from Jonah and Lisa to James, and Evan she's just incredible too. Everybody was just so welcoming, I think it definitely helped alleviate some of the pressure.”
Being somewhat of a veteran in the working actors world, Cage has wise words for new actors. “Learn the craft. Learn what you're doing, because that will make it ten thousand times easier. Take the time to learn the craft and to study, and get a process that works for you."
In training and life he also has advice that has helped him throughout his career. “Listening will always make you a better person, let alone a better actor. That was a big thing I learned when I trained. That really changes everything, because when you're truly listening you can truly respond and react.”
Most actors relish the opportunity to portray different characters from every genre, but for Patrick he loves the gritty side of storytelling. “I love a good drama. I really just like things you can sink your teeth into. I gravitate towards projects like that.” He has an altruistic outlook on why he enjoys playing these parts so much. “In showing the human pain of people, I hope that by seeing a reflection viewers can start a process of healing through empathy.” Despite the appeal of deep and dark roles, Cage's wish list of dream roles includes playing a superhero or action star. “I'd love to play someone like Blade.” With such a juxtaposition of character choices from both past, present and future, Cage is set for a very long and successful career.
Smooth sailing may be the case for Patrick now, but it hasn't always been that way. From when he started to his current position in Hollywood, things have changed. “I don't know if it's necessarily changed on the business side of things or if I'm just more aware as I’ve gone further with my career, but there’s definitely been an influx of roles for people of colour in the last two years."
It's a change that's being felt, watched and followed by everyone around the world. Hollywood is making a powerful commitment to change stereotypes and push for both racial and gender diversity to become normality on screen – just like it is in real life. “There's been a huge explosion of diverse casting opportunities and different stories all around. People are really open to hearing ideas from people of colour now, which is long overdue. We can all relate because we're human. We all go through the same things at the end of the day.”
Since Patrick grew up and surrounded by film and TV work, I took the opportunity to ask what he does to relax outside of the spotlight. “I like hiking and playing with my dogs. I play dungeons and dragons, it's a lot of fun.”
He's incredibly close with his family, bringing his mom to the premiere of Westworld to walk the red carpet with him. “Family's a big rooter for me. They ground me very much, they help me to stay sane within the chaotic world that is Hollywood.” He's incredibly humble and credits his success to her. “My mom got me into it as a kid, she took me to that first agency meeting and my first auditions. She's definitely a big support and the reason why I do it. Westworld was a big one for me, so that's why there was really no one else I wanted to bring other than my mom. I wanted to share that moment with her.”
From working on so many popular series, it's not hard to see Patrick Cage becoming a household name in the not-too-distant future. His approach and diligence to treating acting like any other career is commendable.