Hand-picked by Hollywood royalty Nicolas Cage to be his stand-in, Greek Canadian Marco Kyris spent a decade standing-in for Cage from 1994 to 2004 on films including Con Air, Face/Off and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, perfecting Cage’s mannerisms, observing the film industry and meeting more film stars than one could dream of.
With his striking good looks and uncanny resemblance to Cage, it’s easy to see why he was the perfect candidate. Now, he is shining the spotlight on his experiences through his acclaimed new short doco ‘Uncaged: A Stand-in Story.’
The doco, which feels like a candid discussion between Kyris and the viewer complemented with photos of Kyris and Cage dressed alike on set, and his various imitations of Cage, has been a hit at film festivals from Toronto to LA to Melbourne, where it recently won Best International Short Documentary at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Kyris is simultaneously grateful and bemused at the popularity the film is enjoying, explaining that he plans to turn it into a feature film in the near future. Affable, down to earth and delightfully entertaining one only has to read through the stories on his website or listen to his podcast Babble, BS and Beyond to gauge that Kyris is never without a great sense of humour throughout his journeys.
GCT recently had a chat to Kyris about Cage, career and his aspirations for the future.
What was it like growing up Greek in Toronto?
I grew up in the 1960’s/70’s in Greektown, Toronto. It was a very different time compared to these days. It was very Greek village, like Astoria in Queens, New York. We felt like immigrants as my parents never learned English, and we were never pushed to excel in school. Quite working class immigrant style. We stuck to our own mainly.
What influenced you to decide to pursue a pathway into acting?
I wasn’t sure what the difference between acting and movie star was back then. I just felt like I wanted ‘to make it’ to prove to my parents that I was worthy really. I wasn’t motivated by the art of it, but by the act of it. Quite superficial. Of course, that’s why I actually didn’t make it.
When did you realise you resembled Nicolas Cage?
I realised I looked a bit like him in the early 1990’s, and was told by some people too, but not often. I thought of myself as a Euro version of him to a degree.
Did Nicolas personally choose you as his stand-in?
Yes, he asked me into his trailer to let me know that I was the best he had seen on a set, so he asked me to be his traveling stand-in.
What was your first impression of Nicolas?
At first I thought he was cold and distant. He was up and coming into the A-lister acting world, and he is a Coppola, so, I am sure he had a certain air about him. But, then I realised he was just into his character, and reserved his energy for the camera and co-stars, as he was the lead in the film and needed to set the pace.
What was your biggest highlight in the decade you spent working on Nicolas Cage films?
There were too many highlights. Meeting superstars and directors I had admired for years, and then getting to work with them. Also, actually working in those real big Hollywood film studios like we all see on TV and in the movies. A thrill really. And of course the nice hotels in New York and LA when working.
What was the biggest challenge?
The most challenging part was the hours of switching from days to nights and back again. Completely sleepless for months at a time.
And many of the locations were quite harsh with no amenities, or comfort at all over a 12-14 hour days.
What got you through the long, difficult hours standing in each day?
The workload got me through it all. Almost every shot was on Cage, so that meant I was present and alert for every shot, and could not veer away at all. The 12 hour days actually went quickly, but always tiring.
Meeting so many actors in that time, which moment had you the most star-struck?
I would have to say John Travolta. He was my idol growing up in the 70’s, and I had watched every TV show and film he had ever done. Then bang! I got to work with him on Face/Off.
What is one piece of advice you got along the way that has stayed with you?
Do not overstep your working boundaries. I did a bit, and got verbally slapped out for it by a producer. Know your position and stick to it.
What prompted you to make ‘Uncaged’?
I have wanted to do this short film for a decade, but never had the time. I wanted to tell my story in short, but now want to expand it into a feature, as there is so much to unravel. It was a very unique position and time to work in Hollywood and with a super star like Cage.
Has Nicolas seen Uncaged? Do you keep in touch?
I believe he has seen it through a mutual producer, but I have not formally sent it to his agent yet. We have not kept in contact since parting ways.
When can we expect your book to be released?
I hope the book will be out at the end of year.
Do you have any plans to come to Australia?
I have wanted to go Down Under every year for years now, but never have the time. I want to do a full month there during my winter here. Some day though.