Though haunted by cries of nepotism early in his career thanks to being born the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola and Talia Shire, actor Nicolas Cage managed to strike out on his own based on the strength of his fearless and often over-the-top performances while becoming one of Hollywood's highest paying stars. After landing his first leading role in "Valley Girl" (1983), Cage was featured in a pair of his uncle's films, "Rumble Fish" (1983) and "The Cotton Club" (1984), before establishing his penchant for the bizarre with the offbeat indie "Birdy" (1984). He starred in Coppola's underrated "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) and delivered an hilarious turn as an ex-con turned baby kidnapper in the Coen Brothers' slapstick "Raising Arizona" (1987). Cage next earned his first serious critical praise for "Moonstruck" (1987), before again going off the rails as yuppie who becomes a vampire in "Vampire's Kiss" (1989). But it was Oscar-worthy performances in "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995) and "Adaptation" (2002) that elevated his status and propelled him beyond low-budget indies to become a $20 million-per-film star in blockbusters like The Rock" (1996), "Con Air" (1997), "National Treasure" (2004) and "Ghost Rider" (2007). Of course, Cage was not immune to tabloids, who publicized his marriages to Patricia Arquette and Lisa Marie Presley while documenting his tax troubles with the IRS. Regardless of how one felt about his often outlandish performances, there was no doubt that Cage was a risk-taking actor willing to do just about anything on screen.