Nicolas Cage. If you listen to the RELEVANT Podcast, you know it’s not always easy to discern truth from fiction when it comes to that guy. His real life exploits can match his onscreen ones thrill for thrill. Case in point, a new conversation he held with some of his fellow actors in this year’s annual roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, in which Cage recounts the electrifying saga of a horse named Rain Man who tried to kill him.
Joined by Simon Rex, Jonathan Majors, Peter Dinklage and RELEVANT winter issue cover star Andrew Garfield, Cage launches into a dizzying tale of a murderous horse that had it out for him on the set of his upcoming Western the only way Cage knows how: unprompted.
Nicolas Cage talking about a horse named Rain Man that tried to kill him. pic.twitter.com/Xt1GzmQYrf
— Michael Mann Facts (@MannFacts) January 5, 2022
“I was in Blackfoot Country,” Cage says (of course he was). “Rain Man kept trying to knock me off and would try to run my head into roofs, and then I’d get off and try to be nice to him, and he would headbutt me. It was not fun. I’ve always had good experiences with animals. I always had great experiences with horses, but Rain Man wanted to kill me.”
An intriguing set up to a classic man versus nature epic in which Cage’s wits and brought to bear against forces beyond mortal ken. Cage says he attempted to put his foot down while shooting Butcher’s Crossing, telling the director Gabe Polsky that he couldn’t work with Rain Man anymore. But Cage and Rain Man’s fates were intertwined, and they would see the movie through to the bitter end.
“I’m so glad I got through that movie alive,” Cage said. “The director’s name was Gabe. The last shot, it was just like, ‘Gabe, I’m not getting on a horse again.’ Then one of the Native Americans said, ‘Oh, Nic’s just going to get off the horse. We’ll get on …’ ‘OK, fine. I’ll do it.’ So I got on the horse and literally, again, he kept trying to throw me off. I was like, ‘That’s it. That was my last shot, and you had to make it almost like a stunt. You did make it a stunt. You almost killed me on my last shot in the movie.’ As you can tell, I’ve got post-traumatic stress disorder from Rain Man.”
This already riveting tale takes a genuinely shocking turn at around the 1:20 mark, when we learn a few important details in rapid succession. First, Cage isn’t the only actor to have worked with Rain Man — Majors has ridden the very same horse. Second, Majors had no issues with Rain Man, suggesting the horse’s bitter enmity with Cage was personal. The electricity in the air here! Better than any movie! And then, a truly incredible exchange that couldn’t improve upon with a million editors and script doctors:
CAGE: Was Rain Man nice to you?
MAJORS: I think he may have been a little older when I got him…
CAGE: I just wrapped three weeks ago!
Oscar. Oscar! An Oscar for Cage. An Oscar for Majors. Definitely an Oscar for Garfield, who is barely holding it together and very subtly steering the conversation back to Rain Man throughout. An Oscar for Dinklage, who mutters that “older doesn’t mean we get nicer.” Every possible Oscar and then some for this moment, and an extra one for Cage, just for being himself.
And it leaves you wanting more! At the very end, Cage tosses in a brief aside about being chased on Rain Man by a herd of bison, the two foes united in a flight for life. This story, which sounds like it’d be the most interesting part of my life, is just a P.S. here. Cage vows to stop talking about it, but Garfield speaks for all of us: “Please keep talking about Rain Man.”
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.