Nicolas Cage can explain everything

Fifteen minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, in a quiet gated community, up a red brick driveway, past palm trees touching the sky of the Mojave Desert, through the veil that separates the astral plane, and here it is: the man they say won and lost a $150 million fortune; who owned castles in Europe and the most haunted house in America and the Shah of Iran’s Lamborghini and two albino king cobras and a rare two-headed snake; who had to return his prized dinosaur skull after learning it had been stolen in Mongolia; who embarked on an epic quest for the true Holy Grail; and who, when his singular and fantastical life comes to an end, will be buried forever in a colossal white pyramidal tomb in New Orleans.

Nicolas Cage greets me at his door, dressed in a kung fu suit.

“It’s my Wing Chun kung fu costume,” he explains, waving me in and handing me a cup of coffee. “I studied with my sifu, Jim Lau, when I was 12, because I was a huge Bruce Lee fan. And so it’s like my uniform for chilling out.

His voice is a low, drawling voice that imbues every word with philosophical breadth. Hearing Nicolas Cage give his opinion on his favorite loungewear is like hearing anyone else reflect on the cosmos.

Nicolas Cage covers the April issue of GQ. To get a copy, subscribe to GQ.

Jacket, $375, and pants, $225, by Diesel. T-shirt, $42 for a three-pack, from Calvin Klein Underwear. Belt (price on request) and belt buckle, $3,750, by Kieselstein-Cord. Boots, $1,295, by Nick Fouquet x Lucchese. Sunglasses, $418, by Prada. Ring, his.

“I’m still decorating, so excuse me,” he says as we stroll through his house. An imposing mahogany cuckoo clock strikes the half hour. Powerful bronze dragons guard the hall. Lacquered arms holding torches shoot out from the eggplant-purple walls, illuminating the way. Look down and you have a Persian rug ripped from a Lisa Frank coloring book. Look up you got a crystal chandelier and an original Black Lagoon Creature attach. Straight ahead: a prince! Specifically, a huge photo of Prince roller-skating in hot pants and a Batman tank top. At the heart of the house is a charcoal drawing of her late father, August Floyd Coppola, which hovers over the fireplace, and all.

Cage moved into this place last summer but moved to Vegas in 2006. He came for state taxes (there aren’t any), although he soon learned to love the place. atmosphere of a small town and the possibility of being forgotten. “In a way,” he says, “that decision saved me.”

His best friend is resting in a nearby chair, sizing me up. He has the regal look of an emperor, with an elegant mane of gray hair and wise golden eyes and a luxurious tail and, okay, yes, he is a cat. A Maine Coon named Merlin. “He’s so kind and so loving,” Cage tells me, more than once. “Sometimes he puts his arm around me when he’s sleeping, and I think that’s my wife, and I’m like, ‘Oh, Riko.’ And then it’s Merlin.

The owner of his favorite local pet store recently passed away, so Cage retrieved some of the remaining animals stuck in limbo. A few turtles, a fish with a big eye that he felt bad for. They live in a series of aquariums lining his kitchen and bar counters (his Oscar is also somewhere up there). “My job is to take care of them, to make sure they’re happy and safe,” he says as we stop to watch a freshwater turtle wade. “Eventually I will have to give it away, as I donated my two-headed snake to the Audubon Zoo.”

Colleen D. Ervin