How Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West Influenced Nicolas Cage [Exclusive]

Talking with our own Jeremy Smith, Cage was asked about his influences for the character of Colton Briggs, and Cage responded instantly with the name “Charles Bronson.” In fact, he repeated it two more times to send the message home.

“Charles Bronson, Charles Bronson, and Charles Bronson. I think ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ might even be my favorite movie. I think his performance as Harmonica is arguably one of my top five favorite performances ever because he was able to, with [director Sergio] Leone, convey so much and do so little, and it looked like he meant it. He’s acting opposite Henry Fonda, who is a hugely lauded film actor, with ‘Young Mr. Lincoln’ and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and all that -– even ‘The Oxbow Incident.’ But Bronson don’t give a s***. I mean, just like, ‘Well, you’ve got a Purple Heart, and you almost got shot down in a B-52. You’re on set. You’re looking in his eyes, and you mean it.’ I grew up watching that. When I got invited to do Colton Briggs, yeah, he was always on my mind. I don’t know if I got close to that, but that’s certainly what I was aspiring to.”

Cage is a big pop culture fan and has been very vocal about his love of comic books (he not only notoriously nearly played Superman once, he even named his son Kal-El) and movies, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d sail right past Clint Eastwood and go for the meatier performance from Bronson. 

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