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Season of the Witch hits theaters today among the first crop of new movies for 2011. Nicolas Cage stars as Behmen, a Crusades-era knight charged with transporting a suspected witch (Claire Foy) to a distant monastery where she will be judged. Behmen is joined on his journey by a number of others, including Felson (Ron Perlman), a close friend and comrade-in-arms, and Kay (Robert Sheehan), a young man of the church with the heart of a hero.
One of the chief draws for the actors in working on Witch was getting to share scenes with a luminary like Cage. The actor brings three decades worth of experience to the table, a colorful career that spans everything from issues-driven drama to quirky comedy to sci-fi to straight-up action and beyond. Hearing his fellow actors speak about working with him, it’s clear that Cage brings a lot more with him to the set that just a long and storied career.
Perlman admits that the chief appeal of the Felson role for him was getting to work with this particular group of players, and with Cage in particular. “It was a dream of mine to be in a Nicolas Cage movie,” he said. “I never imagined it would be a role that was as prominent as Felsen. It’s a buddy movie and it’s the two guys, Behman and Felsen. So that immediately got my attention.”
For an actor who is no stranger to being a headlining star himself, Perlman was still acutely aware that he was in the presence of greatness with Cage on set. “I was a little bit intimidated to work with him because it’s impossible to understand the admiration I have for his early work, Raising Arizona, Wild At Heart, Vampire’s Kiss, Moonstruck… I mean off the charts admiration,” he said. “And so I wondered whether I had the game to keep up with him, and that was part of the fun of the execise.”
Any worries Perlman had went out the window once the production got underway. “He’s really easy to work with, Nic. He’s an amazingly generous actor and he’s a real pro,” Perlman explained. “He takes kind of a blue collar approach: he’s very focused, he’s very cooperative, he’ll do anything you ask of him, he’s the very first one to get onto the set in the morning, the last one to leave. So he takes his work very seriously and there’s no kind of muss or fuss. It’s hard to believe that he’s the movie star he truly is because he certainly doesn’t act like one. He’s a working stiff who’s just trying to ger ‘er done, you know?”
Perlman wasn’t alone either. Sheehan and Foy both felt a little starstruck about working with the star. “I think Cage is a brilliant comedic actor. He can play the hero and the leading man, but he’s also hilarious,” Sheehan said. Foy agreed, practically mirroring Sheehan’s comments. “He’s brilliant, he really is.”
Foy elaborated further, speaking to the mystique that surrounds Cage and what is seen as his quirky personality. “Certain people are always trying to get stuff out about him, about Nic, about who he is and what he’s like,” she said. “He’s fascinating because he’s a star. And don’t get me wrong, I find him as fascinating as the next person, but he still is a human being, he still is a man, and he’s got a family.”
“That’s the Nic I got to know,” she continued. “So I won’t remember Nicolas Cage the movie star, I’ll remember him as an actor and how lovely he was to me on my first day and how he was always so interested in me and finding out about me and making jokes. Just such a lovely, lovely man. I really feel like it has been a pleasure to get to know him.”