It's the damnedest thing.  Amber Heard is, by any standards, ridiculously beautiful.  And Nicolas Cage can be a somewhat imposing interview subject, at least when you're first getting to know him.  By all rights, I should have been the one person in this room feeling nervous or flustered.

Yet when you watch the interview, it's Amber who seems like the entire notion of sitting and talking about the new film "Drive Angry" has got her sort of flushed and rattled, and it's endearing to realize that this girl, who can no doubt fell whole rooms full of men with just the right look, can actually get all twitterpated.  Makes her seem human-scale again.

It's an interesting moment for Heard, since she's got a role in "Drive Angry" that allows her to do more than just be "the girlfriend" for once, even if she does rock a pair of Daisy Dukes that are downright indecent.  She gets to be every bit as rough and gruff in this one as Nicolas Cage or Billie Burke or William Fichtner, and she also is responsible for the heart of the film.  Not an easy role, but she makes it look easy.

I've spoken to Nicolas Cage enough times over the past few years that I've noticed something:  he is one of the most protective co-stars a young actor could ever hope to have.  When I was on the set of "Kick-Ass," I saw it in the way he dealt with Chloe Moretz, and I assumed that was part of the father-daughter dynamic they were playing in the film. 

But when I saw him on the publicity tour for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," I saw that same sort of protective nature kick in as he talked about Jay Baruchel.  And now, sure enough, it's obvious in the way he spoke to Amber before our interview and during it.  He genuinely loves these younger performers, and I think he's well aware of the way his body of work might seem intimidating when they first meet him.  He treats them as peers, and he makes them feel like equal partners in the creative process, and I see the way they react to him.  It just makes me like Cage that much more, and I think it says a lot about him as an actor and a person.

We talk a little about the ways this film is different from "Ghost Rider," which has a few surface similarities, and we talk about the specific demands of 3D and how Cage adjusted to it over the course of the shoot.  It's a quick fun conversation, and when I get worn down by the logistics of juggling a press day with writing and dealing with family demands, something as simple as walking into a room and having this sort of chat can recharge the battery.

"Drive Angry 3D" opens everywhere this weekend.
You can read my review here.