Nicolas Cage's Longlegs look was inspired by botched plastic surgery, says horror movie's director: "Everything that was you is now f***ing ruined"

(Image credit: Neon)

Longlegs' marketing campaign is one for the horror history books. It's had genre fans cracking codes, perusing the details of a bunch of grisly murders on a fake website, and cowering in their seats, too. It's also been deliberately obscuring the terrifying face of Nicolas Cage's titular serial killer. And boy, is it terrifying...

With his scraggly, white blonde wig and a face full of prosthetics, the actor is pretty unrecognizable in the role, which writer-director Osgood Perkins says was somewhat of a request from Cage. "Early on in the development, Nic was really enthusiastic about burying himself," he tells GamesRadar+ and Inside Total Film, "which I thought was awesome, because I don't think he's ever done that before."

Perkins always knew he wanted his villain have a disturbing look, though. "In the script, he's referred to as someone who's been ruined, ruined by life, ruined by living the life that he's had to live," he explains. "A good shortcut into that for me wound up being, like, when you see someone who's had plastic surgery and you're like, 'Wow, you really fucked that up, didn't you? Your whole thing? Everything that was you is now fucking ruined.' So that was elemental, that was the shorthand. 

"You just start getting into it with makeup people, you're talking about what busted plastic surgery looks like. Then you just start building it, piece by piece, and you edit and like anything else, you shape it and you sculpt it and you throw things away and you try again."

Also starring Alicia Witt, Blair Underwood, and It Follows' Maika Monroe, Longlegs follows semi-psychic FBI Agent Lee Harker, as she's tasked with reopening an unsolved murder case. With only a pile of decade-spanning files and a roster of cryptic letters left at each scene of the crime, Lee kicks off her investigation, but things take a turn when Longlegs seemingly strikes again. 

As she delves deeper, Lee discovers links to Satanic worship and a chilling connection between herself and the eponymous antagonist. Can she find and stop him before another innocent family is slaughtered?

"When I saw Nic as Longlegs for the first time; that [reaction] was incredibly genuine because I hadn't seen him before," Monroe chimes in during our interview. "Oz called action, I walked into the room, so that was all very real. I had an inkling [as to what he was going to look like] based off of some of my initial conversations with Oz, but it's one thing to read and hear about something versus it sitting two feet away from you."

Longlegs creeps into 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 and Monroe on the upcoming episode of the Inside Total Film podcast, which is available on Apple, Spotify, Audioboom, 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.