Longlegs director opens up on working with Nicolas Cage in new horror: "It's like having a racehorse in your movie"

Nicolas Cage in Longlegs
(Image credit: Neon)

Longlegs' Osgood Perkins has opened up on what it was like directing Nicolas Cage in the new horror movie, and how the actor was comparable to a racehorse, a festive present, and a saxophone on set...

"He's everything that you want him to be, I'm so happy to report. It's like you've come down on Christmas morning and there's a Nicolas Cage-shaped package under your Christmas tree," the filmmaker, whose past works include Gretel & Hansel and The Blackcoat's Daughter, tells GamesRadar+ and Inside Total Film

"You open it up and he just starts going? He's intensely prepared. He has read everything. He's seen every movie that you could ever want to reference. He knows everybody's name," Perkins continues. "He knows every performance, he can quote every song. He likes all the same things you do. He's in complete control of his instrument. He's just on it. It was a privilege. What can I say?"

As the trailers that have kept him at arm's length suggest, Cage's letter-leaving serial killer Longlegs doesn't actually feature all that much in the movie, so when he does, his uncanny, prosthetic-heavy presence packs a punch. Cage's performance on-screen swings from quietly creepy – a silent, out-of-focus wander in the background, or a whispered voiceover – to heart-joltingly wacky, like in an uncomfortable, half-headed close-up where he loudly, suddenly, inexplicably bursts into song.

"It's like having a racehorse in your movie, Perkins adds. "It's like, 'Well, I guess it's just gonna do its thing, and I'll just stand by and make sure that nothing goes too far one way or doesn't go far enough another way. I mean, I can't imagine directing Nicolas Cage with a strong hand; it's a very gentle touch. You're just positioning little things here and there, every once in a while. He's like a cello or a harp, or a saxophone."

"The words were in the script, I can take credit for the lyrics," he says of the random, rock 'n' roll solos, "but the delivery is all Nic. The performance, the decibels: I love when those kinds of little Nic Cage-esque moments peak out. It's really gratifying, having been such a huge fan of his for so long."

Also starring Alicia Witt, Blair Underwood, and It Follows' Maika Monroe as FBI Agent Lee Harker, Longlegs releases in UK and US cinemas on July 12. In the meantime, check out our list of the best horror movies ever, or our guide to the most exciting upcoming horror movies heading our way. 

Listen out for more of our chat with Perkins on the upcoming episode of the Inside Total Film podcast, which is available on AppleAudioboomSpotify, and more.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.