Dare police to arrest you. In April 2011, while in New Orleans filming his latest movie, Medallion, a “very drunk” Cage was witnessed screaming at, and allegedly assaulting, his wife, Alice. When police arrived on the scene, they told the couple to go home, to which Cage replied, “Why don’t you just arrest me?” The police repeated their suggestion. Cage then repeated his. Hours later, Cage was bailed out of jail by Dog the Bounty Hunter. Cage’s wife refused to press charges.
Destroy Your Career, Part 1: Star in Season of the Witch, a movie that prompted one critic to ask, “Did either Cage or [director Dominic] Sena even bother reading Bragi F. Schut’s patchwork script before adjusting the wig, flicking on the camera and cashing the paychecks?” The $40 million medieval pic earned $10.6 million during its opening weekend and went on to gross a meager $24.8 million stateside.
Buy a Bel Air mansion for $6.5 million.Take out six loans against it worth $18 million. Make sure to decorate the house in a manner alternately described as “frat house bordello” and “Gothic mausoleum,” only to watch it fall into foreclosure and sell at auction for $10.5 million.
Throw a Christmas party that guest Jay Leno will refer to as the greatest he’s ever attended. Serve the finest shellfish from a buffet table carved out of ice. Have 10-foot-tall nutcracker men stationed by the front gate. Hire lighting professionals to showcase your collectible cars parked in the driveway. Pay a production crew to blow fake snow. Receive so many presents that you forget about the gifted pony, which is seen roaming your property the following morning. Cost: lost in the hangover haze.
Buy too many animals.At one time or another Cage has owned purebred dogs, rare birds, lizards, saltwater sharks, an octopus and a pair of albino king cobras (along with the accompanying antidote serum). But why stick with living creatures? Taking it to the next level, he outbid Leonardo DiCaprio on a 67-million-year-old dinosaur skull at a 2007 auction. Cost: $276,000.
Buy a “natural work of art from outer space.” Join the ranks of Steven Spielberg, Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor and buy into the Macovich Collection, the greatest treasure trove of aesthetic iron meteorites the world has ever known. Select specimens carry a price tag of $100,000 or more.
Buy multiple castles. In 2006 Cage purchased a 28-room 11th century castle situated on 395 acres in Etzelwang, Germany. He then sold it for roughly the purchase price of $2.3 million—after spending $4 million on improvements. Then he spent $7.8 million on 18th century Midford Castle in Bath, England, which he eventually unloaded for $5 million. Loss: $6.8 million.
Own a flotilla of yachts. Cage has owned as many as four of them—one docked in each of the following locales: the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Newport Beach, California and Rhode Island. To help settle his debts he had to sell two of the vessels, including Sarita Si, a 130-foot Italian-built motor yacht capable of accommodating a dozen guests on its three decks.
Buy (and lose) more real estate—this time, two properties at once. Cage picked up two vacant lots situated side by side and covering hundreds of acres in Malibu, California. Owing close to $9 million on the properties, he watched them go to auction for a minimum bid of $10 million. No buyers showed, so the bank took the land back. The same day, his Bel Air mansion went into foreclosure.
Buy and lose more homes, this time in New Orleans.In 2005 Cage spent $3.45 million on a house in the Garden District that was once owned by novelist Anne Rice. Shortly thereafter he put down another $3.45 million on a French Quarter Creole mansion widely considered to be the most famous haunted house in the city. On the hook for $5.5 million in mortgage payments, not to mention $150,000 in property taxes, he lost both houses to foreclosure in fall 2009.
Collect shrunken heads. Some people who’ve seen Cage’s collection say it consists only of animal heads, but others swear the heads appear to be human in origin. Either way, importing any type of shrunken head is not the world’s cheapest hobby.
Invest in comic books.Cage has owned (and sold) millions of dollars’ worth of comic books—400 titles in all. But three of them—including the first Superman appearance (worth $1.5 million) and the first Batman appearance—were stolen. (The Superman comic was recovered 11 years later.)
Destroy Your Career, Part 2: Star in Bangkok Dangerous, a remake of a classic Thai thriller. One critic described the film as “dimly lit, emotionally empty and devoid of thrills.… It’s never close to good, and it can’t even get bad right.” Opening during the slowest movie weekend in five years—"We lucked out,“ noted the studio’s VP of distribution about the lack of competition—the film still lost $2.5 million at the box office.
Buy cars at a rate of one a month. Cage has owned as many as 50 collectible cars, which necessitated the services of a full-time mechanic and a hangar at Santa Monica Airport. His fleet has included nine Rolls-Royces, a $500,000 Lamborghini Miura SVJ formerly owned by the shah of Iran, a 1955 Jaguar D-Type and a Bentley with custom cabinetry and a bar.
Spend $8.5 million on a 14,300-squarefoot Las Vegas estate equipped with a screening room, an elevator and a 16-car subterranean garage. Watch it fall into foreclosure and sell for $4.95 million. Loss: $3.55 million.
Spend $15.7 million on a 12-bedroom, 27-acre Rhode Island estate complete with tennis court, billiard room, library, conservatory, fish pond and views of the Atlantic. Put it on the market. Wait. Slash the price. Wait. Repeat. Finally sell it, in April 2011, for $6.2 million. Loss: $9.5 million.
Destroy Your Career, Part 3: Star in Ghost Rider. While the superhero action picture is among Cage’s most profitable in years—grossing nearly $230 million world-wide and spawning a forthcoming sequel—it did significant damage to his rep with critics, one of whom said, "It’s fascinating to watch an actor who thinks he’s in a good film when he’s really in a bad one.”
Owe millions in back taxes and penalties. Beginning in 2009 Cage found himself deeply in debt to the IRS, including having a $6.3 million lien placed on his real estate holdings for taxes owed from 2002 to 2004 and an additional lien of $6.7 million for unpaid 2008 taxes.
Already own a house in the Caribbean? Buy an island in the Caribbean. In 2004 Cage purchased a luxurious house on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Two years later he picked up undeveloped 40-acre Leaf Cay island, complete with sandy beaches, tropical palms and a freshwater pond. Cost: $3 million.
Destroy Your Career, Part 4: Star in *8MM. *A mere five years after winning your best actor Oscar. The psychological thriller provoked one critic to write, “Those foolhardy enough to place themselves at the mercy of 8MM can expect the following emotions: disgust and revulsion, then anger, followed by a profound and disheartening sadness.” The film earned $36 million domestically—on a $40 million budget.
If financial planning isn’t your forte, concentrate on the type of planning that makes sense in the long run. Finally—very finally—purchase a nine-foot-tall pyramid-shaped tomb to serve as your eternal resting place, in a New Orleans cemetery. After all that spending, you’ve earned a nice long break.