The Real Reason Nicolas Cage Changed His Name

Few directors have impacted modern cinema quite like Francis Ford Coppola. The auteur is responsible for helming classics like "The Godfather" trilogy, "Apocalypse Now", "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and many more.


In the years since Coppola got his start, he's also become the head of a veritable show business family; his daughter, Sofia Coppola, is herself a renowned director, and actors Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, and Robert Schwartzman have found their way into the family business (via Entertainment Weekly). Even Coppola's father, Carmine, earned an Oscar for his score of "The Godfather II."

Another member of the Coppola clan is Nicolas Cage; the actor is related to Coppola through his father, August, Coppola's brother. For the most part, Cage has made his own name as an actor, starting out with a role in "The Best of Times," a pilot that was never picked up, and a small part in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," from which most of his scenes were cut (via Cheat Sheet).


Despite putting distance between himself and his showbiz family, Cage did once attempt to call in a favor from his famous uncle (via Entertainment Weekly).

"So Uncle [Coppola] was doing 'Godfather III,' and I said, 'I really think I ought to be in your movie, Uncle. I really think it's a good idea if you would cast me. I think I could play this part,'" Cage explained. Ultimately, the role went to Andy Garcia, but you can't blame Cage for trying.

What's in a name?

When Cage first started out as an actor, he was still using his real last name – Coppola – and is even credited as Nicolas Coppola for his first few roles (via Cheat Sheet). But eventually, Cage tired of the buzz that surrounded him as a Coppola. "Casting agents would spend the entire audition asking about my Uncle Francis," Cage once told Entertainment Weekly.


His fellow actors weren't easy on him about it, either. "I was the brunt of jokes because my name was still Coppola," he explained. "On the set, some of the actors would get together outside my trailer and recite a version of Robert Duvall's line from 'Apocalypse Now.'" Instead of saying "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," the thespians would swap out napalm for Nicolas, pronouncing, "I love the smell of Nicolas in the morning."

Now, all these years later, Cage has become a star in his own right. And he has come together to collaborate with family on occasion, in Coppola's films like "Rumble Fish," "The Cotton Club," and "Peggy Sue Got Married".

After all, it's always good to be able to know your family has your back — particularly, if, say, Coppola ever decides to make a fourth "Godfather" film.