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‘The Croods’ is a 3D comedy adventure that follows the world’s first modern family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always been their home is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, the Croods are rocked by generational clashes and seismic shifts as they discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures – and their outlook is changed forever. In the film, Emma Stone voices Eep, the families rebellious teenager who’s trying to drag her family kicking and screaming into the future. Her nagging feeling that there might be more to life outside the family cave is confirmed when the Croods embark on their journey. Written and directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps), ‘The Croods’ also features the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke. My interview with Emma Stone for ‘The Croods’ can be read here, while my Ryan Reynolds interview can be read here.

Your character Grug wants to keep his family safe, and that’s not unexpected. But then like all dads or guardians, he must learn how to be less rigid, controlling and protective. As a father I can image you may have somewhat empathized with your on-screen alter ego?

Nicolas Cage: Yeah (laughs). It’s impossible to be a father and not have extraordinary worry in your life. You worry, you worry every hour of the day that your children are safe. And Grug really embodies that, he’s the classic over-protective father… on a million (laughs). Plus, he’s a father in a world that’s filled with danger and excitement outside of his cave, so he has to be extraordinarily careful with his family to make sure that they don’t leave the cave. I think parents can relate to that. As a father it’s impossible to avoid thinking about your child’s first crush, or about keeping up with your kids’ new ways of thinking. We, as parents, go too far sometimes, but that’s where Grug is at. He does experience a transformation, which we all must do at some point in our lives.

The issues in ‘The Croos’ are still ones families face today, with the dynamic between father and daughter, and even the mother-in-law…

Nicolas Cage: Yeah, I think they’re a completely modern family, clothed to be looking like Neandertals. The issues and the tensions that arise in the story of ‘The Croods’ are things I think any family can relate to. The fact that Grug has a young daughter who’s becoming a teenage young lady who wants to go exploring, maybe meet a boy, maybe fall in love…. Grug is to an extent understandably over-protective. There’s genuine fears and concerns with that. I think any father and daughter can relate to that dynamic. And it goes on, the mother-in-law is something that gets a lot of laughs because everyone knows what that can be like (laughs). For me ‘The Croods’ is an extremely emotional movie because it does operate on those feelings we feel as fathers and sons, sons and daughters, daughters and fathers…. it works on every level.

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And in the film one of the catalysts for change is Guy, who sparks in Grug feelings of wariness and a hint of jealousy?

Nicolas Cage: Definitely. I think Grug wonders, “How can I compete with Guy’s brains and new ideas?” Grug is big and lumbering; Guy is athletic, smart and charming – and he’s got his eye on Eep, which understandably makes Grug uncomfortable. But by journey’s end, I think accepts somewhat of a new way of living. He comes to admire and even emulate Guy in some ways. And overall I would say that there are plenty of talking points that families can go to this movie and discuss afterwards at a dinner table and take comfort from. Like maybe you should let go a little bit and stop trying to control everything. Be flexible, go with some changes. You might have a happier life if you can let go.

Speaking to both Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds they were telling me that the recording sessions often went in unexpected directions, and for them to the benefit of the actors and the story….

Nicolas Cage: Yeah. The directors Kirk and Chris were willing to let us experiment and to really go for it. They allowed us to reach for something in the abstract, and they knew what would work when they heard it. They’re not what I call ‘precious’ with the dialogue, which works very well for me because then I can riff with them. I think this is a very much a handmade, tailoring process that takes up to three years. And in that time a lot of experimentation can occur to tweak things and adjust things, and there’s a great little scene… I don’t think it was originally on the books, but the scene where Grug has a sort of meltdown because everyone’s paying more attention to Guy, that was a very funny scene that was really a bit of a surprise. That was something that was new.