Nicolas Cage is borderline insane, but regardless of his unhinged manner of acting, he’s still been a viable leading man for the past three decades. This status has put him side-by-side with some of the most beautiful women in the industry, plenty of which are way too hot for a guy that’s as crazy as he is. There is a simple question that arises, however: which one was the hottest? And to what degree was she too hot for him? This question led to the invention of a very sophisticated number: The CHISeLL Scale.
(Nicolas) Cage Has an Improbably Sexy Leading Lady (CHISeLL) Scale
Coming up with the parameters for the CHISeLL Scale took some time, but I settled upon six factors that resulted in two different scores:
- Hotness Rating: A simple, subjective 1-10 scale rating. I ranked each actress in order from who I thought was the hottest to the one I thought was the least. Then, I broke them down into groups of 3 and gave points 10-1, starting with first tier.
- Movie Quality: This stat was broken down into two categories: Rotten Tomatoes score and IMDB score. The RT percentage is adjusted to reflect an integer of 1-10 and the inverse is taken. The IMDB score is also rounded to the nearest integer and the inverse is calculated.This may seem like I am punishing an actress for starring in a good movie, but there is some reasoning behind this. This is to chart “Improbably Sexy” Leading Ladies, and while a good movie does not mean that the woman is more or less attractive, it does explain the impossibility factor.For example, Nicolas Cage won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, so it stands to reason that the role Elisabeth Shue wound up getting was a much-sought-after role. It makes sense why she would want this role; Jessica Biel in Next on the other hand, makes much less sense.
- Age Discrepancy: Obviously, in Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for a man to be romantically paired with a woman in a movie despite a large age gap. That may work in the movies, but in the real world, unless that guy is throwing around some cash, it seems off. Each actress is given a score based on the difference in age they share with Nicolas Cage.
- Average Age +/-: The second part of the age equation is how each actress compares to the others. The actresses’ age during the year the film was released was averaged out to give us 31, and then each age was subtracted from 31 to give us their score.
- Role Rating: This one is a little less scientific, but not necessarily arbitrary. Each actress was given a rating based on her romantic involvement with Nic Cage throughout the movie. This is to chart the possible fantasy fulfillment for our leading actor. So, for example, Jennifer Beals gets a perfect 10 for her nude, sexy role in Vampire’s Kiss, while actresses like Monica Potter or Maria Bello, whom share minimal screen time with Cage, wind up with a low 4.
- Cageyness: Points based on how “Cagey” Nicolas Cage is in the respective movie.
- Raw Score: The gross point total for each actress. Self-explanatory.
- CHISeLL Score: In order to weed out any outliers, each actress’ highest and lowest score is thrown out, giving us the official CHISeLL Score.
In order to decide who was the most out of Nicolas Cage’s league, I narrowed his leading ladies down to nearly 30 candidates:
- Cher, Moonstruck
- Holly Hunter, Raising Arizona
- Jennifer Beals, Vampire’s Kiss
- Laura Dern, Wild at Heart
- Erika Anderson, Zandalee
- Sarah Jessica Parker, Honeymoon in Vegas
- Lara Flynn Boyle, Red Rock West
- Bridget Fonda, It Could Happen to You
- Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas
- Vanessa Marcil, The Rock
- Monica Potter, Con Air
- Meg Ryan, City of Angels
- Carla Gugino, Snake Eyes
- Angelina Jolie, Gone in 60 Seconds
- Tea Leoni, The Family Man
- Penelope Cruz, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
- Meryl Streep, Adaptation.
- Diane Kruger, National Treasure
- Bridget Moynahan, Lord of War
- Maria Bello, World Trade Center
- Jessica Biel, Next
- Eva Mendes, Ghost Rider
- Diane Kruger, National Treasure: Book of Secrets
- Eva Mendes, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
- Rose Byrne, Knowing
- Amber Heard, Drive Angry
- Nicole Kidman, Trespass
Some of Cage’s more infamous roles, specifically Face/Off and The Wicker Man, didn’t have a substantial leading lady, so they’re unfortunately absent. Other films, some that went straight-to-video, were ignored, as I didn’t feel they were representative of Cage’s body of work. Some may argue that Red Rock West is a minor enough film to leave off, but it’s actually a personal favorite of mine, so it gets a pass.
I struggled with this one, because the subjective aspect of this is unmistakable, though I tried to limit it by breaking them into groups and gave points to them based on where they wound up on the greater list.
As you can see, there’s no particular correlation between the older Cage gets and the subjective hotness of his co-star. This combats any notion that as he gets older, his co-stars get younger.
Best (Most Points): The top 3 were easy choices: Jessica Biel, Amber Heard, and Angelina Jolie. From there, there were definitely some that fell further down the list than I thought they would. Penelope Cruz, for example, I figured would get more points, despite my usually stance that she slightly resembles a dachshund. She only got 6 points, as there were others I thought were better looking.
Worst (Least Points): With apologies to three Oscar winners, the lowest on the totem pole were Holly Hunter, Cher, and Meryl Streep. We can’t all be beauty queens, but at least they aren’t as insufferable as Tea Leoni.
The IMDB ratings tended to trend about a point higher than their respective Rotten Tomatoes score, but both averaged out to a middle-of-the-road movie. The Rotten Tomatoes average wound up being 4.3 points per actress, which translates to a movie that would’ve received a 57% on RT. As for IMDB, the average actress got less points, meaning the reviews on IMDB fared better than on RT, garnering 3.48 points-per-actress.
Despite the recent mockery that has befallen Nicolas Cage, I think it has more to do with the invention of the Internet and the popularity of memes rather than the decreased quality of his work. As you can see, he seems to trade off between good movies and bad movies.
Best: If by best you mean most points, Nicole Kidman averaged 7 points between both scores, as her movie Trespass got her 9 points from Rotten Tomatoes. Little-known Erika Anderson and her movie Zandalee got 13 total points between the two scores, which was good enough for 2nd.
Worst: In this case, the worst means your movie is better than the others, and a few actresses tied, averaging 1.5 from both scores: Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona), Meryl Streep (Adaptation.) and surprise candidate Lara Flynn Boyle (Red Rock West) brought in the least amount of points based on movie.
On average, Nicolas Cage’s numbers are not too bad in this category. Even though he seems to be getting paired with girls that are half his age these days, the crop only averaged 4.37 years younger than him.
Obviously, we were going to see a strong trend upwards as Cage gets older. Still, there’s at least one outlier with Meryl Streep hanging out in the middle of the chart down below.
Best: Amber Heard was born in 1986, which means being paired with Nicolas Cage (born in 1964) makes her 22 years his junior. Unfortunately for her, the points wind up not factoring in to her final score, as it’s easily the highest point total in the entire chart.
Worst: On the other side of the spectrum, Cher was born 18 years prior to Nicolas Cage, which is a pretty significant difference; especially considering that Moonstruck has Nicolas Cage expressing his love for her at nearly every turn.
Average Age +/-
These leading ladies averaged out to be 31 years of age. Even when you remove the highest (Meryl Streep) and lowest (Laura Dern), the average still holds steady at about 30.5.
Best: Lara Flynn Boyle and Laura Dern were both 23 when they made their respective films with Nicolas Cage, garnering them 8 points.
Worst: Meryl Streep was 52 at the time of Adaptation., which could’ve lost her 21 points, but they were thrown out for the final tally. We can probably call Streep a point-of-reference in the grand scheme of things, though, rather than a serious competitor. She’s a great actress, but not exactly known for her looks.
Nicolas Cage has been involved with 5 full-fledged sex scenes with the actresses on this list, netting those “lucky” few a full 10 points. The rest of the scores are, more or less, judgment calls, but have a basis in reality. Meg Ryan loses points because she doesn’t show anything during their sex scene in City of Angels, but pretending to have sex with Nicolas Cage is worth a little more than implying it, as is the case of Jessica Biel in Next.
Best: As mentioned, five women have bared some skin while engaging in fake sex with Nic Copolla: Jennifer Beals, Erika Anderson, Laura Dern, Penelope Cruz, and Elisabeth Shue. Each earns 10 points for their troubles and the emotional scarring.
Worst: No one really does too poorly in this category. Essentially, it’s broken up like so: nude sex scene gets 10, non-nude sex scene gives 8, kissing/implied sex gets 6, kiss with minimal shared screen-time or no kissing gets 4. It’s an inexact science, as I haven’t seen all these movies, but it is close to accurate.
In the interest of full disclosure, however, I toyed with the idea of dropping Meryl Streep, Monica Potter, and Maria Bello down to 2 points, as they share very few scenes with Nicolas Cage.
Nicolas comes in many forms and I thought it was necessary to show that sharing the screen with Cage is not equal as you go from movie to movie. Actresses that had to deal with Cage at his Cageyiest got the full 10, which surprisingly only happens 5 times. Cageyness averaged out around a 6, which means that you can usually count on him turning in a role at Gone in 60 Seconds level of Cageyness.
Best: These are the performances that make Youtube a wonderful place. Jennifer Beals, Eva Mendes, Holly Hunter, Meryl Streep, and Cher all have to deal with Cagey at 110%, so they get the full point total.
Worst: Sometimes, Cage can be reserved; it’s rare, but it happens. To my count it’s happened 3 times: It Could Happen to You, The Family Man, and the somber World Trade Center. All three actresses (Bridget Fonda, Tea Leoni, and Maria Bello) were already playing from behind and this category is going to push them further, getting only 2 points apiece.
Originally, the raw score was going to be the final score but I realized that, without moving outliers, the scale was far too advantageous to actresses that performed with Cage as he got older. While, subjectively, I would say that it still is an accurate assessment, I needed to balance the scale some how.
The average actress rates at about 30 points, which means that the average actress is a Vanessa Marcil in The Rock level of “Too Hot For Nic Cage”, which isn’t too bad.
Best: Propped up by a 22-year age difference, Amber Heard’s raw score beat out everyone else. I figured it would be a two-horse race between Heard and Jessica Biel, which is exactly how it shook out; I feel this is pretty accurate.
Worst: Based on the scores, only two women were deemed “Not Too Hot For Nic Cage”: Cher and Meryl Streep. Fair, as far as I’m concerned. Streep got the lowest score (-17), not helped by either the age discrepancy or her +/- score.
The C.H.I.Se.L.L. Score
Despite Amber Heard bringing home the most points in the raw score, she wound up coming in 4th behind a three-way tie. Jessica Biel, Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider), and Angelina Jolie all wound up with a score of 35, which is apparently really good for a made-up score. If I had to break the tie, I’d give the lead to Jessica Biel, as Angelina Jolie has to suffer through that stupid hairstyle and Eva Mendes has to be in Ghost Rider.
The Full CHISeLL Scorecard
Originally, this all started because I was going to do a Top 10 of his hottest costars, but then the article started to evolve and eventually took on a life all its own. Despite that, it all kind of worked out the way I would have guess it would, though I would have probably put Amber Heard as the undisputed #1.
One thought I had was that Nicolas Cage was probably the easiest target, but it would probably be no different if I had substituted someone like Adam Sandler for Nic Cage. But Sandler isn’t really worth the virtual ink, so Cage it is.