This Is Why Nicolas Cage Calls ‘Dream Scenario’ a Masterpiece

The Big Picture

  • Nicolas Cage was drawn to A24’s Dream Scenario because of its originality and unique storytellingr.
  • He discusses how he was able to draw from his own life experiences to embody his character, Paul Matthews, in the film.
  • Cage considers Dream Scenario to be a masterpiece and believes it showcases the best of the filmmaker’s craft.

Nicolas Cage is taking over everyone’s dreams. At least, that’s the premise of writer-director Kristoffer Borgli’s sophomore film, Dream Scenario. So, how did a young filmmaker catch the attention of the iconic Nicolas Cage? With a 100% original screenplay that Cage himself deems a “masterpiece.”

Paul Matthews (Cage) is a nobody in A24’s new horror comedy, yet somehow, he’s cropping up in the dreams of millions. When this phenomenon goes viral, Paul goes public, and suddenly, his ordinary life is upended by fame. Strangers who’ve never met Paul claim he’s terrorizing them in their sleep like some kind of suburban Freddy Krueger, and these inexplicable happenings begin affecting his personal life. In addition to Cage, Dream Scenario also features Julianne Nicholson, Tim Meadows, Michael Cera, and more.

The synopsis alone is intriguing, but Cage tells Collider’s Steve Weintraub the other element of the project that piqued his interest was the freedom to channel his own life experiences into the role. Due to the ever so slightly uncanny design of Paul Matthews, Cage says he could lose himself in the character but that his personal life allowed him to tap into the emotional core and apply past feelings in a constructive way. He also discusses the unexpected nature of the film, the positive response to its world premiere at TIFF, and the philosophy behind his genre-spanning filmography. For all of this and more, check out the interview in the video at the top of this article, or you can read the full transcript below.

Nicolas Cage on the poster for Dream Scenario
Image via A24

Dream Scenario

A hapless family man finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. When his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom.

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Kristoffer Borgli

Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Tim Meadows, Dylan Gelula, Michael Cera, Dylan Baker, Kate Berlant, Jessica Clement


100 minutes

Main Genre

Kristoffer Borgli

Read Our ‘Dream Scenario’ Review

COLLIDER: You know I’m such a fan of your work, but I have to say that you are exceptional in this movie. So good.

NICOLAS CAGE: Thank you.

Nicolas Cage Felt Like He Had to Make ‘Dream Scenario’

Nicolas Cage sitting in front of a wall that says
Image via A24

You’ve read so many scripts. What was it actually like reading this one because it’s so unique and different and very hard to quantify?

CAGE: And that really spoke to me, Steve, because I like movies that are original, that have that feeling of brand-newness to them. I like movies that aren’t afraid to tell a different kind of story. I said there are only five scripts in 45 years of doing this where I feel I have to, have to, have to make that movie, and those scripts are Leaving Las Vegas, Vampire’s Kiss, Adaptation, Bringing Out the Dead, and Dream Scenario. I didn’t want to change a word. Now, other scripts I’ve made have been great, but most, [they] evolved. It wasn’t necessarily on the page, other movies I’ve made.

But what also was at work here for me was that I could put some of my life experience in terms of my emotions into Paul Matthews. A lot of thought went into designing his look, even changing my voice, the way I dress, the way I walk to be as far away from so-called “me” as we might think so that you could lose yourself in the character of Paul Matthews. But emotionally, I remember feeling no sense of control over what was happening to me on the internet, the “Nicolas Cage loses his shit,” all that stuff, turning into a memeification, cherry picking freak out scenes, meltdowns without any sense of act one or two or how the character got to that crisis and going, “I can’t stop this. This isn’t why I became an actor. It’s not why I made the movie. This is something new.” It wasn’t until I read Dream Scenario that I said to myself, “Now I can take those feelings and I can apply them to something constructive.” I would not have been able to play Paul Matthews and connect with you if I had not gone through that experience. That whole apology video? I meant it, man. That was me reacting to what was happening to my body of work through these mashups.

Nicolas Cage in Dream Scenario
Image via A24

When you’re making something, you really don’t know how it’s going to turn out. When did you realize, “Oh, wait, this is something special, and people are really responding to it?”

CAGE: Well, I knew right away. This one I knew right away. I sat down with Kristoffer, we had coffee together a year before we even started working together, and I knew because of the way he presented himself, his thoughts, the level of intelligence, the fact that he wrote this script, which again is so original, I knew that whatever we did something special would emerge. What the level of that specialness was, who can really say? But I knew that it would be a worthwhile effort.

I was in the world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and I reacted very strongly, but I felt that audience. What was it like for you at that world premiere having all those people respond to your work?

CAGE: Oh, it’s great. You know me, I’ve been on the receiving end of tomatoes, and like Gary Oldman said, applause is never to be taken lightly. I was thankful. I really appreciate it. I was touched, and I loved it, and I’m glad you were there at that screening because that was a fun one.

What I also found fun is that you wear a Talking Heads suit, and they had a film at the Toronto Film Festival. It was just one of those full circles. I’m like, “Get the F outta here!”

CAGE: Fantastic coincidence. But I mean, you know me, Steve. You and I have spoken a million times. We’ve talked about how I approach movies and what’s important to me, so you know why this movie is so meaningful to me. I feel like it’s a perfect summation of everything I want to be doing right now.

Why ‘Dream Scenario’ Is a Masterpiece

The other thing about this film, which I really, really dig, is that I was not able to guess what was going to be the next scene.

CAGE: That’s beautiful.

Exactly. That’s the thing. Both you and I see a lot of movies, you probably more than even me, but one of the things is that sometimes you can just guess everything. With this one, there’s no guessing. You’re not gonna know where this goes.

CAGE: See, and I think you and I have a similar taste in that regard. I want to be surprised. It’s like, if I go have dinner somewhere, I want the chef to let me know, “What do you think is great?” Just surprise me. I want to get knocked out by something I’m not expecting. I want a new taste. I don’t want the same thing over and over again.

Now, look it, the comic book movie, I will say one thing about it, to be fair. Comic books, by nature, are episodic. As a child reading it, I want to get to the next issue. So what they’re doing is just having the comic book experience applied to the movie-going experience. “Okay, I can’t wait for this one or that one. I want to see the new issue. Instead of reading it, I want to look at it.” So, that’s truthful to the comic book experience, but that’s not where I’m at. What I wanna do is I wanna keep doing the independently spirited dramas. I wanna keep making movies that I, as a student—I’m not a master, I’m a student—will learn something from, which explains my whole filmography, which is why I did the adventure films because I wanted to do something new and see if I could make it work. I don’t want to play it safe. But the independent drama has always been where one can really take the chances and find something original and try something, which may or may not work, but at least you’re trying to hit that mark.

I’m happy to say that, in my view, Dream Scenario is a masterpiece. What do I mean by masterpiece? Something which is the work of a craftsman that is so fine that nothing needs to be added, taken away, or altered. And I think that Kristoffer did something for his sophomore effort that is that. And that’s why I’m happy that, yeah, it came together the way it did.

What Is Nicolas Cage Doing Next?

Nicolas Cage and Julianne Nicholson leaning in for a kiss in Dream Scenario
Image via A24

People ask this question all the time, but I’m being very sincere when I ask this of you. I’m sure you get offered a lot of different scripts. Is there something, because you’ve done so much in your amazing career, that you are still anxious to do in terms of a genre or a type of character that you have not played?

CAGE: The only genre that I don’t think I’ve really done is the musical, and I don’t think I’m necessarily the greatest choice for a musical, but it would be a challenge, and it would be something that I might learn from. But right now, I’m approaching 60, so my thinking is like, “Okay, what’s the best usage of my time?” You start thinking about things like time when you hit 60. My dad left when he was 75, so I’m like, “Okay, what’s the priority?” Well, my daughter is the priority, my kids, and I gotta start thinking about what can I do to keep the mind? I gotta read more books. Then, if there’s something that comes along, let’s say I get a call from a director, maybe it’s gonna be his last movie, maybe that’s interesting. Maybe I should do that with that person. Who knows? Or she, it’s gonna be her last movie. Whatever it is. There are different criteria that go in, but the main thing for me, really, is to keep it as personal as I can. So I still have these conversations with you, and you’re still relating or connecting with it in some way where it doesn’t feel fake. Yeah, we designed the look of the character, the movement, the voice – that’s all craft – but the inherent emotion, I have to back it up with genuine life experience and whatever feelings I can apply to it so you don’t feel like I’m acting.

Dream Scenario is in theaters now in the U.S. Purchase tickets here.

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