If you’re a Nicolas Cage fan who spends any amount of time on Twitter, chances are you recently came across the actor’s utterly demented cameo in a 1989 film called Never on Tuesday, which went viral last week thanks to a tweet by journalist Alex Navarro. Chances are that this was also your first time seeing it. Even among Cage superfans, the film is obscure, having never been released on DVD or streaming platforms. “It has no legacy,” the film’s producer, Cassian Elwes, tells Gothamist, “until now, when this clip appeared!”

Over the weekend, I watched the complete movie with a friend, thanks to an extremely low-quality dub on YouTube, and we both agreed it was the most chaotically horny late-’80s artifact we had ever seen. The story (written by director Adam Rifkin, who later wrote and directed Charlie Sheen vehicle The Chase) revolves around two boneheaded young men, Matt and Eddie, who are road-tripping to Los Angeles in search of beautiful women. After a minor collision, they wind up stranded on a remote desert road with (wait for it) a beautiful woman, who, noticing their desperate advances, informs them that she is a lesbian. Alas, Matt and Eddie have all the horniness and gender sensitivity of Beavis and Butthead, and they regard this fact with both bewilderment and firm determination to turn her straight. Suffice it to say, some lines have not aged well at all.

Mostly, this thin plot is a vehicle for two things: (1) a handful of sexed-up fantasy sequences, and (2) a succession of cameos by well-known actors of the day, including Gilbert Gottfried as a demented salesman and Charlie Sheen as a sinister crook, both of whom visit but do not rescue our hormonal heroes. The strangest of these cameos—and the reason we are talking about this long-forgotten film today—is by a young Nicolas Cage, who wears an obviously fake nose and speaks in a bizarre falsetto lilt; he asks if anybody needs a lift, then breaks into a maniacal laugh before speeding away.

Cage delivered this performance two years after Raising Arizona, and in between 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss and 1990’s Wild at Heart, a period in which he was determined to push himself towards unusual and expressionistic styles of acting, critics be damned. The difference is, in Tuesday, he had to condense all of the surrealism into one 60-second cameo.

“I've been a bit of a Nic Cage obsessive for years,” Navarro explains in an email, “and somewhere amid my digging around his filmography, I found this clip on YouTube, which prompted me to track down a copy of the movie. It's not a good movie, exactly, but the cameo has always stuck with me, in the way that most off-kilter Cage performances tend to.” Regarding the clip’s unexpected viral appeal, Navarro adds: “Turns out the internet is just as thirsty for Weird Cage as I am, I guess!”

Since Cage fandom and lore goes beyond all cities, all boundaries, and all borders, I tracked down the film’s producer, Elwes, to get the real story behind this unusual cameo. He, uh, had a lot to say. This interview has been lightly condensed. (Rifkin, the film’s writer and director, did not respond to a request for an interview.)

What’s the backstory behind this film? The young writer/director Adam Rifkin—this was his first movie. There was a film I was interested in making with him called The Dark Backward, which we made afterwards. Nobody would finance that movie. So I said to him, “Why don't you write something that's really simple to shoot. Shoot it all in one location. Get a bunch of cameos in there. And make it for no money and show everybody that you know how to direct a movie.” That's basically what happened.

How did Nicolas Cage become involved? As I said, we made it very low-budget: under a million dollars. I made a movie called Oxford Blues a few years earlier with Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy. I was hoping to get Rob Lowe to do that cameo in Never on Tuesday. At the last second, he couldn’t do it. We were scrambling—literally had like 48 hours to come up with a star. A friend of a friend said, “What about asking Nic Cage?” I was like, “Ask him!” Then he called me back and said, “Yeah, he’ll do it, but he wants to wear this nose in the movie.” I was like, “Tell him to come, bring the nose, no problem.” I didn’t know him at all.

Were you a fan? Yeah, a big fan. Nic was a huge star at that point. I can’t remember if Moonstruck was before that one? [Note: It was.] It was preceding Leaving Las Vegas, but he was already a huge young male star. So for him to come do this cameo in our film… Short of wearing a bag over his head, I was totally cool with whatever he wanted to do.

They just said, "Could he wear a fake nose?" I was like, “Sure!” I didn't know what it was gonna look like.

Why was he so fixated on the fake nose? Well, there’s a bit that’s clipped out from the film. We were worried about whether we had a right to say it or not. He arrived with the nose, went into his trailer—I didn’t see him. They told me he was there. I was like, “Oh my God, Nic Cage is on our set.” Then he comes out with that outfit and the hair the way it is. He looked a little bit like Crispin Glover, who was one of his best friends at the time. He’d done his hair that way, and with this huge nose on.

There was a man who we’d borrowed the [Ferrari] Testarossa from, because we were shooting in a really obscure little town called Borrego Springs, about 75 miles from Palm Springs. We wanted a desert locale where it looked like these two boys could break down and never be found. So we got this Testarossa from this man and he was thrilled that Nic Cage was gonna drive it in our movie. Then [Cage] comes out in that costume—in that hair and that nose—and the look on the man’s face was like, he panicked!

Was he worried that his car would be damaged? Yes! Because then Cage jumps in the car and drives off. He looked like a little blip in the horizon, like something from Lawrence of Arabia. The director told him, “Hey, listen, all you have to do is drive the car at 100 miles per hour towards the camera, stop right in front of us, get out of the car, ask the guys if they’re hurt, ask them if they need a ride, and then before they even answer, jump back in the car and take off, because it’s going to be a little gag in the movie that nobody will stop and pick them up.”

So he drove really fast at the camera, stops, jumps out of the car, says those lines in that really crazy way, then jumps back in the car and starts yelling before he accelerates away: “Pinocchio! Pinocchio!” We’re like, “What is he saying?” And then he takes off, comes back, does it one more time, yells “Pinocchio!” again, then gets in the trailer, gets out of his costume, takes the stuff, and disappears.

In the clip that was online, I didn’t hear him yelling that. No, they cut it out. The distributors took the line out.

Did you know that he would be speaking in that falsetto voice? No! No idea.

Did the director have any input on his mannerisms? No! That was Nic Cage doing Nic Cage.

You were the producer of the film. What was your take at the time? My take at the time was, “Oh my God, we got Nic Cage in this movie, I don’t care what he did.” [laughs] It’s hilarious!

Were you taken aback that his decisions were so bizarre? Not really. I had gone to a party that he was at, maybe a year before. A friend said, “Oh, you want to go to a party that Nic Cage is having?” We went to an apartment in a famous old building called El Royale in Hollywood. Went up to whatever floor the party was on. There were very few people there. And Nic was there with Crispin Glover. I’m not even sure if it was Nic or Crispin Glover’s apartment, but there was a giant aquarium and there was a baby shark just swimming back and forth inside. He just sitting on the end of the bed, and he sat there for maybe an hour just watching the shark going up and down.

Why was the movie never released on DVD? Because the distribution company went bust very soon after they took the movie. We had a big screening one week where we showed the film, all week, to every distribution company in town. They were all calling, and all desperate for it. Then we said, “We don’t take any offers until Friday, when everybody’s seen it.” Then on Friday, we didn’t get any offers at all. One small distribution company said, “OK, we’ll take it.” They ended up selling the distribution rights to Paramount. And then Paramount never did anything further with it, as far as I can tell.

It’s all rather sad. But I’m happy that now, 30 years later, finally, [there’s] a clip from the movie that people are obsessing over! I love it!

What was your reaction when you saw that it went viral? Oh my God, I just laughed out loud. Because I remember the morning when we did it. It was almost dreamlike. First of all, the fact that we managed to get Nic Cage within 48 hours—we flew him out on a private jet, I think… I think he maybe did two takes of driving up and two takes with the dialogue. [Then he] goes back to the trailer. Takes all his stuff and disappears and I never had a chance to talk to him. The whole thing was bizarre beyond belief!

What are some of the other notable cameos from the film? My brother Cary Elwes does a very funny scene with Emilio Estevez where they play two garage mechanics who come out to tow the car away. [As well as] Judd Nelson, and a guy who was a big up-and-coming comedian at the time, Gilbert Gottfried. All those cameos are hilarious. They’re just very funny.

Did any of those actors get paid? No, they all did it for scale. They did it as a favor to me.

What do you think the movie’s longterm legacy has been? It has no legacy, until today, when this clip appeared! And I think now it’s going to have a famous legacy, because other people will pick up the other clips from it and eventually maybe they’ll even pressure Paramount into putting it out on DVD.

That would be wonderful. It would be amazing. You know, we thought it was a pretty good movie at the time. It’s bizarre, because the whole thing takes place in one location. But we liked it, and we couldn’t believe nobody really wanted it with all these big movie stars in it.

Including Cage. People love Nic Cage. They adore him. I love the fact that now, because of him, this movie might get a second life.

Have you ever discussed that scene with Nicolas Cage since then? No. I never wanted to. To me, it didn’t need any explanation. He did me a solid by doing it, and I never said to him, “Hey, what was that all about?” I became friendly with him later on. Never asked him about it. I thought it was him doing what he wanted to do. A lot of actors, they take jobs and they’re told by the director what to do. In this one, he invented the character and he did the whole thing on his own and loved it.

I’m glad it’s finally getting some attention, all these years later. Me too! … It's hilarious! I love Nic Cage. And I love who he is. And I love what he's about.