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01st Oct 2016

Remembering when Nicolas Cage somersaulted on Terry Wogan, stripped and threw cash at strangers

Is this the greatest moment in television history?

Rich Cooper

The year is 1990, and Nicolas Cage is backstage on the set of Wogan. Neither he nor Terry can surely be certain of what’s about to happen.

What is supposed to happen is this: Nicolas Cage walks out on stage, gives the audience a courteous wave hello, shakes Terry Wogan’s hand, then sits down for a scintillating televised chat about this, that and the other.  What actually happens is surely one of the most bizarre yet freakishly beautiful moments of broadcasting.

Nicolas Cage is a singular talent; there never was nor never shall be another actor or living breathing human person like Nicolas Cage. He does his things way, because to do things any other way would be to betray the purpose of being Nicolas Cage. And so, Nicolas eschews the standard talk show entrance – walk out, wave hello, shake hands – in favour of something with a little more, shall we say, artistic flair.

He does a somersault.


Seemingly apropos of nothing, Nic rushes forward, puts two hands on the floor and hopes to God that his feet follow. They do, and having completed what surely must be one of the most remarkable feats of gymnastics outside the Olympics, rounds things off with a single *clap*.

Knowing what we know of him now, Nicolas Cage signalling his arrival with a somersault seems like the most natural thing in the world, but at the time this may well have raised an eyebrow or two.

And that would be enough, surely? If you can’t make your point with a somersault, what else can you do?

But wait, what has he got in his pocket?


Is it a gun? Is it his business card? Is it photographic evidence that 9/11 was an inside job eleven years before 9/11 even happened? No.

It’s money. Cold, hard, beautiful money, and the audience shall have it all.


If you’ve heard the rumours about Nicolas Cage, you’ll know that he allegedly wasted $96 million on luxury yachts, European castles, a pair of albino King Cobras and a 67-million-year-old dinosaur skull, amongst other extravagances. What you may not know, and what this video footage alludes to, is that Nicolas Cage loves throwing money at people. Not in a figurative, “shut-up-and-take-my-money” sense, but a literal, “I’m-throwing-my-fucking-money-at-you” sense.

It’s art, and you know what they say about good art? It’s expensive.

He then signs off his performance piece with a karate kick to the moon.


“Take that, you fucking moon!” cries Nicolas. He doesn’t, but he should have.

Nicolas then sits down with the T-Dog for the interview. Wogan, the consummate professional, simply brushes off the philanthropic martial arts display with a quip, “Understatement is the watch-word for tonight”, before magnificently segueing into a question about Cage’s movie Wild at Heart. Fucking T-Dog. The master.

Nic feels like he has to explain what just happened, as well he might. He apologises, saying that he was “a bit wound up back there”. It’s no problem, Nic. We all get a bit wound up back there sometimes, and sometimes you just have to do a somersault, throw money at strangers and karate kick the moon. The interview continues.

But Nicolas Cage is hot under all that leather, so he must divest himself of his clothing.


If you thought you’d just seen a side of Nicolas Cage you’d never seen before, get ready for three dimensions of him.

No washboard abs, no pecs of steel, just pure, unfiltered, Cage. Most movie stars don’t look like that, but then most movie stars don’t take their shirts off live on BBC One with Terry Wogan. Perhaps Movie Stars Take Their Shirts Off Live on BBC One with Terry Wogan could have been a hit, had Terry lived long enough for the idea to take shape. Maybe he already had the idea himself.

We’ll never know.

Not content with just taking his shirt off, he dishes out a one-two-three, right in the moon.


“Pow, pow, pow! You round son of a bitch!” He didn’t say this either, but again, he should have. He then hands his shirt to Terry Wogan, who is rumoured to have been buried wearing it, as any of us would.

Then he clips his mic back on, swashes his hair aside like none of that happened.


And that’s what happens when you’re Nicolas Cage. Things happen, but sometimes it’s like they didn’t happen.

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter whether things happen or they don’t happen, what matters is that Nicolas Cage happened. Or did he? It would be entirely reasonable to believe that Nicolas Cage did not actually happen, that he is a figment of our imaginations, for what man could ever embody the wild spirits of nature in such a way as he?

Thankfully we have video evidence to the contrary, so instead let us be grateful that we live in a time in which it was possible for Nicholas Cage to be joyously, madly, unapologetically, simply: Nicholas Cage.

Enjoy the full spectacle here. Understandably the interview doesn’t quite live up to the antics, but good on old Tel for giving it a bash.