“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is the movie that put Judge Reinhold on the map, in no small part because it features one particular scene that is simultaneously extremely sexy for the audience and tremendously humiliating for Brad, whose … shall we say, private time … is abruptly interrupted. It was a role that helped catapult him to stardom and land a major part in the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise. But it also very nearly went to Nicolas Cage, and might have if not for the baggage that came with having a famous last name. As Cage told the Huffington Post in a 2012 interview:
“I must have auditioned for the Judge Reinhold part 10 or 11 times. I was underage, so I couldn’t get it because I couldn’t work as many hours. And I was surrounded by actors, whose names I won’t mention, who were not very open to the idea of a young guy named ‘Coppola’ being an actor. So that movie was instrumental in me changing my name because of the kind of unfortunate responses to my last name.”
Not long after, he changed his last name and suddenly found that more doors were being opened, as he went into auditions without having to overcome or work around the expectations of being a Coppola. For Cage, not carrying the burden of his famous family’s name was freeing, like having “this weight come off [his] body.” Cage probably could have overcome the initial burden and still broken through with his famous name, but frankly we’re glad that, instead, he decided to do it on his own terms and thanks to his massive talent.