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Nicolas Cage and the “Magic” of Working with an Actual Pig in ‘Pig’

Cage and Alex Wolff describe what it was like working with their co-star Brandy the pig.
Nicolas Cage and Brandy in Pig
By  · Published on July 25th, 2021

Entering the Discourse is a thrice-weekly column where we dig into who is saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today, we share some quotes from Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff on the titular animal in Pig.

In Nicolas Cage’s latest movie, Pig, he plays a former chef turned loner named Rob who lives an isolated life in the woods with his truffle-sniffing pig. When the pig is stolen, Rob embarks on a journey to recover his companion. But this is not a revenge tale; rather, this is the story of a lonely man slowly emerging back into society.

Cage and Alex Wolff have both been praised for their powerful performances in the movie. But there is an unsung hero. The titular pig, played by Brandy, worked on the movie for carrots and always knew when to lock in a soul gaze with her Oscar-winning co-star. 

Nicolas Cage on Brandy the pig

When asked what it was like to work with Brandy the pig, Nicolas Cage told GQ:

 “She was very, like many of us, payment-oriented. She was interested in food really and food only, understandably. She wasn’t that interested in people and I get that. But if they need a very soulful look in her eyes, off-camera, you could show her a bit of carrot. She seemed to like that. Brandy was her name. 

In describing her soulful gaze, Cage didn’t just see her as an animal but as a fellow performer. He formed a connection with the pig that the movie’s director, Michael Sarnoski, and director of photography, Patrick Scola, were able to capture on camera. As Cage told IndieWire:

Michael and our excellent director of photography’s way of shooting, what information they wanted to put in the frame, added weight to the relationship between Rob and Brandy. It never lapsed into schmaltz or a sappy Hallmark card. Michael was observant of the relationship and brought the audience into the wilderness with the two of them in way that was gentle and neutral, which makes it more meaningful. It wasn’t to try to get you to feel something. It was more matter of fact.

Cage went on to explain that he loves working with animals. “Magical things happen when you have a scene with a dog or a cat,” he said. “Any animal, really.” 

Alex Wolff on Nicolas the man

Nicolas Cage wasn’t the only one to shower Brandy the pig with praise. In interviews, Alex Woolf has called the animal a “diva.” And alongside the pig, Wolff also described acting with Cage and their relationship on screen. As he told Slant

“He accidentally elevates everyone around him. But his craft is so beyond words. That’s why we do it, although neither of us can intellectually hold it in our hand what makes acting together so special. What we had was just a connection that was really about the two of us dancing together. It was jazz.”

A haiku of cinema

Pig was initially seen as “John Wick with a pig.” But Nicolas Cage explained to IndieWire that this film is “a haiku of cinema, quiet, an in-depth character analysis that relies heavily on the ambiance and the photography and the quietude of all the performances and the writing. It is not a tale of revenge.”

Pig allowed Cage to access a new side of himself, letting him create a layered and complex character with a special bond with his porcine companion.

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Mary Beth McAndrews thinks found footage is good and will fight you if you say otherwise. When she's not writing, she's searching for Mothman with her two cats. Follow her on Twitter @mbmcandrews. (She/Her)