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Sean O'Connell

Sonic’s Ben Schwartz Has An Amazing Story About Watching Con-Air With John Malkovich

John Malkovich in Con Air

Nicolas Cage has numerous tonal periods during his career. There’s the Method Actor Mic Cage. There’s the Oscar-worthy Nic Cage. We’re currently going through the Exaggerated-Comedic stage of Cage, with movies like Renfield and last year’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. These eras contain some of the best Nicolas Cage movies ever made. But the one that many of you reading this article grew up on was likely Action Cage, where the leading man appeared in movies like Face/Off, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Rock, and Con-Air (which you can watch tonight with a Hulu subscription). It was a seminal time for movies, for Cage, and for people like Cage’s Renfield co-star, Ben Schwartz.     

Our own Mike Reyes, who raved about Nicolas Cage’s performance in our Renfield review, compared Ben Schwartz’s character of Teddy plays more like Castor Troy, Cage’s homicidal criminal from Face/Off. But during an appearance on the ReelBlend podcast, Schwartz told a different story of another Cage classic, Con-Air, and the time he got to screen the movie with one of the film’s antagonists, John Malkovich. How incredibly cool is that? 

The way that Ben Schwartz remembers it, he was filming the Netflix comedy Space Force in Vancouver, and the hotel in which the cast was staying had a movie theater. Schwartz would occasionally rent the space out to show movies, and one night when he learned that Space Force co-star John Malkovich was attending, he decided to program Con-Air. As Schwartz recalled:

I was like, ‘John, do you wanna watch Con-Air?’ And he was like, ‘Uhhh, okay?’ And then (Steve) Carell went, ‘OK, if he’s watching Con-Air, then I’m coming to that!’ So we’re all in this little hotel thing. And I don’t think he’d seen the movie since the premiere. So it was great to talk to him about everything.

It still amazes me when actors star in major blockbusters that go on to become cult classics, or even some of the greatest action movies we’ve ever seen, but they watch them one time at the premiere and then claim they’ve never watched them again. If Malkovich is to be believed, then that special Con-Air screening set up by Ben Schwartz is the first time that he has seen the beloved action-comedy in decades, and I know that the movie holds up beautifully, so I hope he appreciated his performance as Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, one of the many convicts aboard a prison transport that gets taken over by the bad guys. It’s a vintage Malkovich performance, one that ranked pretty high on our list of badass Con-Air characters. Watching Con-Air with him in attendance had to be a hoot. 

Watch our full interview with Ben Schwartz and director Chris McKay as part of this week's ReelBlend:

There are a few things about Con-Air that, even to this day, don’t make a lick of sense. But we still love it. I wonder if Renfield will have that type of impact. Buzz on the film is pretty strong at the moment, but we will see how many people grab tickets to the movie and check it out during its theatrical run. 

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