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Nicolas Cage, Mark Steven Johnson and Eva Mendes Talk About 'Ghost Rider'

'Ghost Rider' Clips and Stars Thrill Fans at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con

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Nicolas Cage stars in Ghost Rider

Nicolas Cage answers questions from Ghost Rider fans at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con.

© Richard Chavez
When Ghost Rider writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and the film's female lead, Eva Mendes, took part in the 2005 San Diego Comic Con, they weren't able to share any clips from the film (nothing was ready to show to the public). However Johnson and Mendes returned to the 2006 event - along with the movie's star, Nicolas Cage - and this time they brought an impressive clip reel which left the standing room only audience clamoring for more.

Prior to the Comic Con presentation, Cage, Mendes, and Johnson discussed the effects, the story, the villain, and much more.

Nicolas Cage Has Always Been a Ghost Rider Fan: Cage says he’s been a big fan since he was just a kid. “Oh yeah, absolutely. I enjoyed the image of the skull on fire when I was a boy and the mythology of it, the Faust-like storyline was so original for a Marvel comic book character. There really isn’t any other one quite like Ghost Rider, and that’s why I think he’s fresh. I think it’s time for a new kind of superhero. I’m speaking to the Ghost Rider fans – step out! We all know who we are.”

Cage’s favorite comic book character is Ghost Rider and that’s because he’s always liked monsters. “I just liked them. When I was a kid I fantasized about being able to turn into the monster to scare the bully away. And I think little boys and girls when they see the werewolf movies, like The Wolf Man, it’s very exciting. Monsters are fun to play and with Ghost Rider, I got a chance to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I got to be in a horror film in the grand sense of The Wolf Man and a comic book-based movie. Ghost Rider, The Hulk – those were my real introductions into the comic book world. They stimulated my imagination so much.”

How big a fan is Cage? He still has all of his Ghost Rider comic books. “Oh, absolutely. I would never sell those. They’re in a special room upstairs, framed and on the wall.”

An Ambiguous Explanation of Cage’s Tattoo: Asked if he has a Ghost Rider tattoo on his arm, Cage said, “I have a flaming skull on my arm, yes, but it’s whatever you want it to be (laughing).” Audiences won’t see Cage’s tattoo in the film. “No, no. My tattoos are for me.” Director Johnson joked, “But that was a great irony. We had to cover up his flaming skull tattoo in the Ghost Rider movie.”

Playing a Comic Book Character: Cage has been attached to – or rumored to have been attached to - various comic book-inspired movies throughout the years, including Superman Returns. As a fan, Cage admits he’s thrilled to have finally been able to bring Ghost Rider to life on the screen.

“It was wonderful for me because as you know, it’s been a long time I’ve been trying to do it. But I’m a big believer that the right character is the one that ultimately happens. And while I enjoyed Superman, I enjoyed the new movie, I think Brandon [Routh] was the right choice for that part and I absolutely think that Ghost Rider is the right choice for me to play. It’s a better match. I’m glad it worked out this way. I want you all to see it.”

Transforming Into Ghost Rider: “A bunch of the times it’s Nic and some of the times it depends on if there’s a stunt involved,” explained writer/director Mark Steven Johnson. “It’s both. It was quite an elaborate get-up they had. Interactive fire’s been kind of the bane of our existence the last few years. CG fire’s the toughest thing to do. What we would do is we would have a green neoprene hood on with these lights that would give you interactive lighting on your shoulders, remove the head and then we could put in the skull and the fire and whatnot. But it proved to be a lot more difficult than we had thought.

It was real fire for all purposes. It would actually move, the fire, but the fire sometimes wouldn’t move the way it should have and it would film wrong. So it took a tremendous amount of time, of working it, and working Nic’s [expressions]. We wanted to get all of his expressions in the skull, which are hard to do without lips or tongue or eyes, and still make it feel like it’s Nic.”

Choosing the Villain for Ghost Rider: Johnson said it was extremely difficult deciding on who would be the villain. “Because when you’re Ghost Rider, he’s the coolest guy in the world and usually your villain is tougher than your hero. So you have to come up with somebody who’s even [more tough]. As far as looks go, nobody can look better than the Ghost Rider or be cooler than that. When we came up with the Blackheart idea, you know, the son of the Devil is pretty tough to beat, too, so we went big. Wes Bentley does a great job for that role. We didn’t want to do is have it go bigger because Ghost Rider is so big, to have a villain who’s even bigger then pretty soon it becomes a goofy monster movie and you lose all the human elements of it. We wanted to try to keep it more human.”

Page 2: The Ghost Rider Character and Marvel Crossovers

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