Nicolas Cage leaves the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, clutching his newly won Oscar in his hands. He’s fresh from his post-victory press conference and smiling broadly. I accost him on his way to his limo.
The Dilemma: Nic! Nic! Nicolas! Over here!
Nicolas Cage: Oh hi there.
The Dilemma: Congratulations on your well-deserved Academy Award for best actor.
Nicolas Cage: Thanks, man. Right on. Do you have a pen, I’ll sign for you. I am in a GREAT mood.
The Dilemma: I can see that.
Niholas Cage: Oh, man. An Oscar! I always knew I could do it, but to get this kind of validation? And for a bold and risky movie like Leaving Las Vegas…
The Dilemma: Well, that’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about.
Nicolas Cage. Cool. FUCK I feel good.
The Dilemma: Nicolas, you’ve made a lot of good films so far in your career, and I know you think that this recognition is going to vault you to the next level.
Nicolas Cage: Right on. I think I can be this generation’s Brando, you know? I can get Method as fuck, man.
The Dilemma: Cool. What’s your plan?
Nicolas Cage: Well, to boost my profile now that I’ve got this golden little baby (he licks his Oscar’s head), I think I’ll make one high-profile, big-budget action movie. Just to prove I’m a legit A-lister, you know? WHOOO!
The Dilemma: Go on…
Nicolas Cage: Then I’ll use my new power and position to make the kind of movies I really want to make. My dream projects, you know? The kind of shit that the Hollywood factory is too scared to produce. Real edgy stuff. Dangerous stuff. I’m going to use winning this award to build a platform to change the system from within. Also, tonight, before any of that, I’m going to do all of the cocaine.
The Dilemma: That’s a good plan. A worthy plan. It’s a wonderful dream. But Nicolas, it’s not going to work out that way.
Nicolas Cage: I know it won’t be easy, but I really think that if I work with writers and directors from outside the system…
The Dilemma: That’s not what I mean. I mean…it’s NOT going to work out that way. I know. Think of me as your ghost of film future.
Nicolas Cage: That sounds…insane. But I’m intrigued. Tell me more. I’m kind of high right now. Did I say that already? High on life! High on Oscar! And also a little pot.
The Dilemma: Well, you are going to make that big-budget action movie you mentioned. It’s going to be called The Rock, and it’s going to be pretty awful — though harmless — and it’s going to make a ton of money.
Nicolas Cage: Right on! The plan is working already! Did you know Elizabeth Shue gave me a hand job for real in the last scene of Leaving Las Vegas? She did. She’s more calloused than you’d think. She’s a sweetheart, though.
The Dilemma: Then, you’ll get a taste of the kind of salary that big-time action stars make per movie, and the studios will decide you’re a bankable star. You’ll follow up The Rock with two more massive and terrible action movies, then make a maudlin, weepy, mainstream romance with Meg Ryan. Your career will never get back on track. When you do try to make decent movies, or work with good directors — in-between generic explosion-laced attempted blockbusters — you’ll generally fail. Eventually, you’ll give up completely, sink into caricature and self-parody, and make films that can only be appreciated for camp value.
Nicolas Cage: Alright, man I think I’ve heard enough. That’s preposterous. This pot must be stronger than I thought. I did get it from Snoop’s dealer, so…
The Dilemma: Please hear me. You still have the power to change your path.
Nicolas Cage: There’s no way I would make even one movie as ridiculous as what you described, let alone make a career of it. I value my craft. I’m Nicolas fucking Cage, for God’s sake!
The Dilemma: Here, watch this trailer on YouTube.
Nicolas Cage: OK. And thank you for not using this conceit to make a terrible “What is this YouTube you speak of?” joke.
The Dilemma: Anytime.
Nicolas Cage: Whoa. What…what…what was that? I don’t understand.
The Dilemma: That, sir, is a trailer to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a 2012 sequel to the dreadful 2007 Nicolas Cage vehicle, Ghost Rider. That is what becomes of you.
Nicolas Cage: No…no…it can’t be. I’m so..so…so fucking hammy! I would never…
The Dilemma: You would.
Nicolas Cage: I could never…
The Dilemma: You could.
Nicolas Cage: Please make it stop. My other films can’t be like that, right? This is just a fluke I do as a favor for a buddy in debt, right?
The Dilemma: (shows Cage the trailers to Wicker Man, Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Knowing, Bangkok Dangerous, Next, Trespass, and both National Treasures)
Nicolas Cage: (starts weeping)
The Dilemma: Now do you believe me?
Nicolas Cage: I just wanted to be respected. I just wanted to be known as something other than Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. I wanted to be my own man, to make my own way. How did this happen?
The Dilemma: You get greedy. You get lazy. You have weird personal and financial problems.
Nicolas Cage: You mean I don’t stay married to Patricia?
The Dilemma: Nope. You marry Lisa Marie Presley…
Nicolas Cage: Holy shit! That’s amazing! (starts simultaneously jerking off and singing “Heartbreak Hotel”)
The Dilemma: …and divorce her. Then you marry some other chick and have a son named Kal-El.
Nicolas Cage: Even more awesome! See, it’s not all bad? I still have some coolness in me!
The Dilemma: You also get sued by like 15 different people and get arrested for domestic battery. You make these movies to pay off liens and because, eventually, you know no other way.
Nicolas Cage: (wailing) There’s no hope! I’m doomed!
The Dilemma: No! You can change your life! You can change your IMDB page! There’s still time. Do it now. Before it’s too late. Before Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.