This photo, from a movie premiere on this day in 1995, is what reminded me — probably for the umpteenth time, but my memory is a conversation for another day — that Nic Cage and Patricia Arquette were married from 1995-2001. They both look so slick and businesslike and chill here, but I hit up Google for some gossip about their courtship and it involves the words “tantrum” and “sea otters” and “hopscotch” and “purple wedding cake,” and Noted Kook Nic Cage is only directly responsible for one of those things.

As the story goes, Patricia Arquette met Nic Cage and Crispin Glover at Canter’s Deli when she was 19, and both of them were extremely interested in making that happen. But when Nic was like, “No, really, I want to marry you,” she basically gave him a list of challenges he had to complete in order to win her hand. This is him telling it all to Playboy:

She wanted a black orchid. She wanted J.D. Salinger’s signature — and anybody who reads knows that he hardly ever signed anything. She wanted a wedding dress from the Lisu tribe in northern Thailand and one of those Bob’s Big Boy statues. So I set out on my quest. […] First I had to find out where she lived. She wouldn’t tell me. She said the street she lived on rhymed with “flower.” I found out where it was. Then I went to a flower store and asked for a black orchid. The guy said they don’t exist. So I asked him for a purple one and I went to the yard store and got a can of black spray paint. I got on my motorcycle with the orchid in one pocket and the spray paint in the other and drove to her house and rang the doorbell.  She wouldn’t come out, but I could see her peeking down from the top floor. In my very showy way, I whipped the orchid out of my pocket. Then I whipped out the paint can and started spray-painting the orchid black.

Oh, don’t worry, he didn’t stop there:

I called an autograph store and asked if they had anything by J.D.Salinger – any kind of handwriting or autograph. The guy said that as a matter offact he had a letter Salinger had written to a woman who I think had taken care of him at a boardinghouse or something. […] So I bought the letter for $ 2500, put it in a cigar box with one apricot and one cigar and drove to her house. She was playing hopscotch in the street with her girlfriends. Hopscotch!

Tragically, the interviewer asking the questions here didn’t follow up on Patricia Arquette’s hopscotch hobby, but I hope somebody will read this today and then ask her about it in a future sit-down, because I need to know. I heard tell years ago that there was a hot celebrity domino scene — true story — and so I’m hopeful that the precursor to that was Celebrity Hopscotch League. I want to know EVERYTHING. I imagine an informal ranking system and a really gnarly grapevine that carried whispers of, say, Rob Lowe being a crap jumper and Lara Flynn Boyle being a remorseless cheat.


[Next was] the Bob’s Big Boy statue. I’d already gotten the chain saw. I was gonna steal one and put it in a truck and leave it on her front lawn. But she freaked out and said, “No more.” She said, “I don’t know if I can marry you, but I will go away with you.” Well, my grandfather was conducting his score for Napoleon in Cuba, and I knew my whole family would be there. I had a plan: I would get her to go with me to Mexico City, then I would abduct her, take her to Cuba and marry her while my family was there. But I got derailed at the Mexican airport because they couldn’t find my tickets. I threw a temper tantrum. That scared Patricia. She didn’t like how I was yelling at everybody. She went back to her boyfriend, and that was that.

This was in the late ’80s, per the Internet, and evidently they bumped into each other at Canter’s again in the ’90s, after which Patricia showed up at Nic’s house in a black latex dress with a giant purple wedding cake and proposed to him.

Two weeks later, Cage, in a dark suit, and Arquette, in a leopard-print jacket, drove to a rocky cliff in Carmel overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They were married in a 10-minute ceremony, witnessed only by the town’s former police chief and a pod of sea otters.

I hope the otters gave them a gift.

There is some dispute as to how long they were happily married. Some papers reported that they separated nine months later, but in that same Playboy article, it says that he was incredibly nervous before the 1996 Oscars (which would’ve been just shy of a year after their wedding) and didn’t relax until Patricia came home and danced the tango with him. I suppose both things could be true: They could have separated, and she could have kindly dropped by his house to tango him into a better Oscars headspace. She has dodged a little and denied a little when it comes to the details, though her Wikipedia says they “acted as a couple” in public until 2000, when he filed. Patty went on to marry Thomas “bird shoes” Jane from 2006-2011; he married Lisa Marie Presley for 107 days, and has been wed three times since, although one only for four days before he filed for an annulment. He also, of course, was infamously in debt after buying islands and castles and a haunted house in New Orleans, and… well, Nicolas Cage’s whole saga is well-trod ground at this point. It makes stealing a Big Boy statue seem pretty banal, honestly. All told, I’m still the most curious about the hopscotch.

[Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images]