Sleb Safari: Nicolas Cage on pet cobras and playing Monopoly with Johnny Depp

Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage

SLEB Safari doesn’t know about you but it’s still ruminating on the advice from scientists that the best way to keep seagulls from stealing your chips, burger, can of Coke and wallet is to give them the beady eye.

Sleb Safari isn’t confident that it’s brave enough to enter voluntarily into a stand-off with a knee-high seagull.

Someone who is definitely ready for a showdown with a seagull, swan or indeed ostrich is Nicolas Cage. The man is so completely himself that it’s beguiling.

Being completely one's self sounds underwhelming, but are any of us totally, unapologetically ourselves 100 per cent of the time, at work and at home?

Nicolas has been chatting to New York Times Magazine about, well, everything really. Including this anecdote about his pet cobras which tried to attack him, repeatedly.

"I did have two king cobras, and they were not happy. They would try to hypnotize me by showing me their backs, and then they’d lunge at me.

"After I told that story on Letterman, the neighbourhood wasn’t too pleased that I had cobras, so I had them re-homed in a zoo."

Then there was the time he did mushrooms with his cat.

"The cat – a friend of mine gave me this bag of mushrooms, and my cat would go in my refrigerator and grab it, almost like he knew what it was. He loved it. Then I started going, ‘I guess I’ll do it.’

"It was a peaceful and beautiful experience. But I subsequently threw them out."

What of the cat Nicolas? Sleb Safari hopes it is dining out on the story of that one time it did mushrooms with Nic Cage.

One of the highlights of this interview was Nicolas discussing the pros and cons of seeing a therapist.

"I haven’t been in any kind of analysis for at least 20 years. The times that I’ve done it, there were some benefits. It’s kind of like writing in a diary. You get things out." So far so good; but there’s better to come.

"However, inevitably, there was a point where I’d look at the person and I’d start to go: ‘Why am I talking to you? I’m more interesting than you.’ Then I’d get up and walk out. So I stopped going."

And then there’s the story about Johnny Depp’s entry into acting and we have Nicolas to ‘thank’ for that.

"I was living in an old building in Hollywood called the Fontenoy, and I think I ultimately rented the apartment to Johnny, and he started living there. He was at the point in his career where he was selling pens or something to get by.

"He would take my money and buy cocktails but wouldn’t tell me about it. He admitted it later. But anyway, we were good friends, and we would play Monopoly, and he was winning a game, and I was watching him and I said, ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ He wanted to be a musician at the time, and he told me, ‘No, I can’t act.’"

That’s where the story should end. Alas...

"I said, ‘I think you can act.’ So I sent him to meet with my agent. She sent him out on his first audition, which was A Nightmare on Elm Street. He got the part that day. Overnight sensations don’t happen. But it happened with him."

Nicolas Cage, please never stop being yourself.


Angelina Jolie is wicked smart

Angelina Jolie – all round good egg and gorgeous lady – has penned an essay for Elle magazine on wicked women and why the world needs more of them.

Towards the end she writes about finding her life’s work and purpose during a visit to a refugee camp in Sierra Leone when she was in her 20s and the advice she gives her daughters.

"I often tell my daughters that the most important thing they can do is to develop their minds. You can always put on a pretty dress, but it doesn’t matter what you wear on the outside if your mind isn’t strong. There is nothing more attractive – you might even say enchanting – than a woman with an independent will and her own opinions."

Amen to that.


Competition - Belfast One-Way Edit Fashion Show

SLEB Safari has five pairs of tickets to give away to the Belfast One-Way Edit fashion show on Saturday August 24.

The fashion show will bring the best of next season to the catwalk and showcase the style for men and women that’ll be appearing in Belfast shops.

You can expect a mix of brands, budgets and body shapes to be on show. Rebecca McKinney is styling the models and says the autumn looks will work for everyone.

The fashion show is at 2pm in Belfast City Hall. Tickets cost £10 and include a glass of prosecco and a goodie bag. For more information visit

To be in with a chance to win answer the following question correctly:

In what year did Belfast City Hall open its doors?

Email your answer to and mark it 'Sleb Safari/Belfast One-Way Edit'. The closing date is noon on Wednesday August 14 and usual Irish News rules apply.

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