An earlier post about the late John Wayne compared him to Arnold Schwarzeneggar in his success in building a long, high-profile, lucrative career on a modest film acting ability.
However, on further reflection, a better modern comparison might be with Nicholas Cage. Not only did Cage win a Best Actor Oscar at the reasonably early age of 32, he has also appeared in leading roles for many of the most significant directors of the past 40 years, like Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, Alan Parker, Norman Jewison and Brian De Palma.
You might argue about the respective merits of those individuals, and Cage did not always appear in their most (artistically or financially) successful works, but it’s still a respectable CV. What might we deduce?
Cage’s start in films is probably connected to his being the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, already highly successful as the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and in his early days he did appear in several of his uncle’s films.
His screen persona is less defined than either John Wayne or Arnold Schwarzeneggar, although I would certainly hesitate to describe him as versatile in the way you could apply that adjective to Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy or James Stewart. Possibly Cage has worked hard at being a good industry insider, a good team-player, not too demanding or too much of a prima donna, trying to ensure that his performances helped films earn a decent return for their producers? In other words, a good professional. All successful organisations, businesses and industries, creative or otherwise, need them.