If you’re Nicolas Cage, perhaps the hardest role to play is yourself. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it seems that Cage turned down a role as himself in Action No.1, the Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant scripted film about his stolen copy of the first issue of Superman (which is worth $1.5 Million dollars). The plan would be to make a nerd heist picture revolving around Cage’s mint comic. But sans-Cage part of the fun of the movie would be gone.

Nicolas Cage came onto the scene hesitant to use his family connections (he’s a Coppola) to get into the business, but by the mid-80′s, he established himself as a fearless actor who was just as likely to turn in serious work as appear as a walking cartoon. By the 90′s – post Oscar – he was happy to appear in big budget studio movies, though as he kept working the edge of his weirdness receded into the background. Still, he could be counted on for a good freak-out now and again. Check out this NSFW compilation:

At this point he’s played a lot of his tricks, and audiences have been less likely to turn out – Cage has had a number of films go straight to video recently, and the latest Ghost Rider film didn’t exactly light the world on fire. Which makes his decision to pass a little sad. There’s no way it could have the pop brilliance of John Malkovich‘s turn in Being John Malkovich, and perhaps he’s seen the Night at the Museum movies, so he could be wary of Lennon and Garant. Still, what better way to show your fans that you get the joke than to play a version of yourself? The other side of that is the possibility by engaging in that sort of self awareness (which – to be fair – he did recently on Saturday Night Live) you distract from your art.

Lionsgate has Action No.1, and without Cage it may die on the vine. Then again, there could be some fun in casting another actor to play Nicolas Cage. Perhaps Andy Samberg?

Who would you cast as Cage?