Did Nicolas Cage Shave His Head For Butcher’s Crossing?

Nicolas Cage essays the role of Miller the Hunter in ‘Butcher’s Crossing,’ which revolves around a grand and violent undertaking by a hunting party that dissolves into a feat of self-destructive obsession. Within this Gabe Polsky Western film, Miller occupies a unique space as the protagonist hunter who convinces William Andrews, a Harvard dropout, to invest in his ambitious hunting party. As a result, benefitting from Williams’ need for adventures, Miller leads the young man, alongside Charlie Hoge and Fred Schneider, on a quest to defeat a massive buffalo herd and reap profits from their hide.

Cage’s compelling performance seamlessly captures the ruthless and fanatical image that Miller infuses within the film’s narrative. In doing so, Miller’s physical presence— head shaved bald, a grizzled beard, and shoulders covered in thick buffalo hide— certainly play a part. As such, viewers may sport some curiosity regarding Cage’s hairstyle in ‘Butcher’s Crossing.’

Miller’s Shaved Head: A Character-Driven Choice

In preparing for his performance in the 2022 film, ‘Butcher’s Crossing,’ wherein Nicolas Cage portrays the role of a hardened and manic hunter, Miller, the actor shaved his head, sporting a bald look. Over time, Cage has spoken about the creative choice to bestow this look upon his character in numerous interviews, establishing the significance behind the bald hairstyle. Reportedly, Polsky can claim credit for the initial idea of a shaved head for Miller’s character, with the filmmaker drawing inspiration from the famed basketball player Michael Jordan.

In a conversation with Collider, Cage divulged the backstory behind the same and shared, “We all know the phenomenon, and the dynamic force, and the ambition, and the need to win of Michael Jordan. [Gabe Polsky] was saying [to me] Think about that, why don’t you shave your head? Think about that ferociousness that he has on the court, that he has to win at all costs.” The idea resonated with Cage as a distinctly Miller attribute, highlighting his incessant need for victory, infusing a psychologically darker trait into the character.

From there. Cage began to see other inspiration in cinematic characters— most notably, Marlon Brando’s Colonel Walter Kurtz from the 1979 critically acclaimed film, ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Consequently, Cage made the decision to shave his head, granting Miller his distinguished look inspired by a unique combination of Brando and Jordan.

In fact, Cage’s Brando inspiration ends up translating on the screen as well in terms of his character’s detailed mannerisms. The actor discussed the same in a conversation with Entertainment Weekly, sharing an on-set anecdote. “When I first saw one of the cuts, I was like, you know, Gabe [Polsky], the thing where I’m rubbing my head and go like this with my fist, that’s a direct steal. You know that, right? We could call it homage, but maybe you want to take that out. He was like, well, it’s one of my favorite things you do in the movie.”

Therefore, as an amalgamation of intentional decisions, Miller inherited his bald look, compelling Cage to shave his own hair for the purpose of the film.

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