Nicolas Cage: Actors should know how to use a gun

Chris Pizzello

Guns are a part of Hollywood and have been since it’s inception. Actors have been slinging guns since the silent movie days, the early years when westerns reigned supreme at the box office.

Despite the legions of actors and extras who have had guns in hand on the screen–both big and small–accidents have been fairly rare. Brandon Lee was the example that stood out to me for ages.

That was before Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger on a gun and killed the cinematographer and wounded the director of the film Rust.

To say that has been a major topic of discussion in movies and television circles would be putting it mildly and plenty of people have offered opinions.

Now, another big name has some thoughts on what happened.

[Nick] Cage was speaking as part of a wide-ranging roundtable discussion for the Hollywood Reporter with fellow actors including Peter Dinklage, Jonathan Majors and Andrew Garfield. On being asked whether guns should be banned from film sets in the wake of the Rust shooting, Cage responded by saying that “movie stars” needed to know how to perform certain activities that may be outside the experience of workaday actors. “You need to know how to fight. You’re going to do fight scenes. You need to know how to ride a motorcycle. You need to know how to use a stick shift and drive sports cars, and you do need to know how to use a gun. You do. You need to take the time to know what the procedure is. Those are part of the job profiles.”

Cage also added that these can overlap with the role of a stunt performer, in a mutually beneficial way. “The stunt man and the movie star are two jobs that coexist. Every stunt man needs to be a movie star, and every movie star needs to be a stunt man.”

Nick Cage can be more than a little weird. What he’s not, though, is wrong.

Look, if you’re just happy to get work, then learning how to handle a gun is probably not a priority. Once you reach a certain level in Hollywood, though, you need to seek out training and learn how to handle a firearm. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

The fact that actors don’t bothers me.

I get that Baldwin and most others in Hollywood don’t like firearms. I’m not asking them to become gun people. However, they don’t need to be gun people. They need to be gun-competent. In other words, if you put a firearm in their hands, they need to know the basics of how to use it and how to handle it safely.

This will benefit them in making their gun handling more believable, but it’ll also mean they’re far less likely to shoot their cinematographer and director as well.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that anyone in Hollywood will listen to Cage on this, but they should. As I said, he may be a lot of things, but he’s not wrong.