Nicolas Cage + Left Behind = Awesome

How can something so wrong feel so right? Variety reports “Nicolas Cage in talks to star in ‘Left Behind’ reboot“:

Nicolas Cage is in negotiations to topline “Left Behind,” a mainstream reboot of the Christian-themed movie trilogy that will mark the first film from Stoney Lake Entertainment, a new production company led by Paul Lalonde of faith-oriented banner Cloud Ten Pictures.

The “Left Behind” franchise is based on the series of books written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins that have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide.

… The Christian-themed “Left Behind” reboot will follow a group of survivors during the first few hours after the Rapture.

The original trilogy, which launched in 2001, starred Kirk Cameron.

The reference to Cam-Cam there is surely misleading. Cage is 48 years old. Cameron played Cameron — Buck Williams, the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time  — and the 30-year-old reporter would be a stretch for Cage.

So does this mean Cage is set to play Rayford Steele? He wouldn’t be my first choice for the misogynist, pompous, repressed and hilariously un-self-aware pilot. For Rayford, I’d look for someone more like a young Fred Willard- or Mitt Romney-type, though I’m not sure who that would be in Hollywood today.

Will Ferrell could do Rayford justice. Maybe Steve Carell. Bryan Cranston would be awesome. Richard Jenkins maybe.

But then again, the primary characteristic of Rayford Steele is that he’s creepy — and Nicolas Cage is really good at creepy. So maybe that could work.

The ideal Left Behind role for Cage would be Dirk Burton — Buck’s paranoid, conspiracy-theorist “source” from the first book. Unfortunately, Dirk only appears briefly before he’s murdered by the conspiracy of international [don’t say ewish-Jay] financiers in a tangential sub-plot that is quickly forgotten and then made irrelevant to the story.

I could also see Cage as Bruce Barnes — especially as sweaty, disheveled, sleep-deprived Bruce. Bruce Barnes would be a lot more fun with a dose of H.I. McDunnough.

But how about Nicolas as Nicolae?

I would enjoy that. I would pay cash money to go and see that in a movie theater. I’m rather fond of Gordon Currie’s scenery-chewing, campy turn as the Antichrist in the original awful trilogy of movies. I think Cage could start there and crank it up to 11.

And the movie would benefit from making Nicolae Carpathia the “topline” character. Unlike the story’s nominal “heroes,” Buck and Rayford, the Antichrist actually does things, and stories tend to be much more interesting when they focus on characters who do things rather than on characters who never, ever do.

Alas, the sketchy initial reports on this Left Behind reboot don’t provide any further detail on the casting of the film. Hollywood Reporter focuses on the director, “Stunt Icon Vic Armstrong,” and offers this tidbit on the upcoming movie:

The story will be more in the mold of a classic disaster film. The plot unfolds during the first few hours after the Rapture and focuses on the survivors.

Filmophilia, Collider, FirstShowing, Film School Rejects and /Film all chime in on the news, but don’t add much detail to the Variety report. While Zack Hunt at American Jesus is hoping for more of a Left Behind/National Treasure mash-up:

My only hope is they tweak the story a little bit and Nicolas Cage ends up having to steal the Lamb’s Book of Life from heaven because there’s a secret map hidden inside that can save the world from Armageddon.

So let’s have some fun. Let’s either ignore this project’s reported small budget ($15 million is, in Hollywood terms, a small budget) or else pretend that every actor in tinsel-town is in the same desperate financial straits as Cage, and let’s cast this reboot.

Here’s my hasty initial take:

Rayford Steele: Will Ferrell

Buck Williams: Jonah Hill

Nicolae Carpathia: Nicolas Cage

Chloe Steele: Clea Duvall

Hattie Durham: Anna Faris

Bruce Barnes: Steve Buscemi

Drunken Businessman on Airplane: John Goodman

Chaim Rosenzweig: Alan Arkin

Dirk Burton: Harry Dean Stanton

In the event that Tim Burton can be convinced to direct, then I’d be quite pleased to have Johnny Depp as Nicolae, Helena Bonham Carter as Hattie, Bill Murray as Rayford, and Mark Wahlberg as Buck Williams. That would be fine, too.

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  • Tricksterson

    I just want to see a porn version.  A musical porn version.

  • Indigo Celeste

    Rayford: John Travolta
    Buck: Edward Norton 
    Chloe: Amanda Seyfried
    Bruce Barnes: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
    Nicolae: Nicolas Cage
    Steve Plank: John Goodman
    Verna: Ghostbusters-era Annie Potts
    Hattie: Scarlett Johansson

  • Turcano

     We need to have Nicolas Cage as Steve Plank, Christopher Walken as Leon Fortunato, with Nicolae Carpatia being played by Tim Curry.

  • Holden

    I don’t often post here, but what the heck.

    Rayford Steele: Tyler Perry
    Buck “Cameron” Williams: Cuba Gooding Jr.
    Hattie Durham: Rosario Dawson
    Chloe Steele: Zoe Saldana
    Nicolae Carpathia: Denzel Washington
    Bruce Barnes: Marlon Wayans
    Amanda: Jada Pinkett Smith
    Tsion Ben-Judah: Spike Lee
    Moishe: Mos Def
    Eli: Samuel L. Jackson
    Chaim Rosenzweig: James Earl Jones
    Verna: Pam Grier

    I’ve been kind of obsessed with all-black casts since a friend suggested one for Gone with the Wind.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve been kind of obsessed with all-black casts since a friend suggested one for Gone with the Wind.

    Zoe Saldana is Latina, and Rosario Dawson is multiracial and I’ve no idea whether she identifies black or Latina or multiracial though it is probably safe to bet she does not identify white.

    Gone with the Wind, really? Wouldn’t that kind of miss the point? Unless the slave characters are white or something.

  • Holden

    That’s what I thought at first, but it kind of makes sense if your goal is to expose the frankly horrible assumptions about race that shape the story. At the time I compared it to donating the proceeds from “Atlas Shrugged” to Habitat for Humanity.

    Thank you for correcting me about Dawson and Saldana.

  • vsm

    Isn’t exposing the racism in Gone With The Wind a bit like revealing the anti-semitic subtext of Mein Kampf?

  • Andy M-S

    Nicolae?  There’s only one possibility here:  Josh Romney, of course.

  • ohiolibrarian

    William Shatner as Bruce Barnes.


  • rizzo

    Ah crap…I try to watch every Nic Cage movie to see how insane he is, so I guess that means I actually have to watch an entire LB movie now:(

  • Merwyn Haskett

    I’d get behind this movie if the premise was Big Daddy and Hit-Girl taking on the Antichrist (Kick-Ass can be the one burned alive in this version)

  • Necktomlee

    I think I would have a problem with this, this is a not-so-subtle Christian series that I would never touch. I’d rather choose Narnia over this, at least Narnia mixed Christianity with Mythology, Magic and Fairy tales. 
    Left Behind series has cliches and stereotypes of: 
    Madonna-Whore Complex (as in women are either seen as feminist sluts or submissive virgins). Gay people are either evil or ‘convert’, It contains Anti-Catholicism (they believe Catholics aren’t Christians) and Antisemitism (Jews either convert or worship Satan) and Islamophobia. There’s so much Black and White Morality, no Grayness.
    And most of all, the Jesus/God portrayed in the Left Behind series sounds like a Jerk. I’d pick Aslan over him anytime. 

  • Evil Eric

    I’d pay to see Nic-Nic.

  • Tim Lehnerer

    I’ve changed my mind about the Dick Miller role. I want him to be the guy who sold Bruce Barnes his advanced computer and printer out of the back of a car. Especially if they do a completely intrusive flashback Coen Brothers-style to put him in the movie for 20 seconds. “Listen, mac, this is the best PC money can buy. The printer does single sheet, continuous feed, dot matrix, you name it. You wanna purchase, you purchase. You don’t wanna purchase, you don’t purchase.”

  • Collegedude790

    really? why is it everybody wants Will Ferrell? Will Ferrell would just ruin this movie! we don’t need a childish twenty minute long temper tantrum in the middle of a disaster film! and really ana faris? Steve Carell? what are you trying to do make this out to be a comedy??

  • Pops

    I see Justin Timberlake as Buck. Don’t know about Bruce, but Steve Buscemi just doesn’t cut it for reasons of age. Jason Bateman maybe?