Obvious History: Nicolas Cage almost sent Charlie Sheen to jail

Published May 3, 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE SCHAPIRO

In collaboration with @velvetcokeObvious History is a weekly series which unearths forgotten moments in pop culture’s past, where the famous and the fascinating collided.

Pre-9/11, when airport security wasn’t the fifth circle of hell and Charlie Sheen hadn’t yet necked back tiger blood, Nicolas Cage and Sheen took a flight together. It was short—an hour-and-a-half stretch from L.A. to San Francisco. However, it gave Cage enough time to play a momentous prank on his Deadfall [1993] co-star.

Thinking a little high-flying drama would do the trick, Cage hijacked the flight’s PA system to announce to the passengers on board that he was the pilot and that he wasn’t feeling well. Sheen freaked out—but not for the reasons Cage intended. “I did not know that Charlie had an eight-ball of cocaine wrapped around his ankle,” Cage told David Letterman in February 2012.

It wasn’t until the plane hit the tarmac that Cage got into a whole new world of trouble. “When we landed, the pilot came out and, understandably, he was very angry. He pointed his finger at my face furiously, at which point the door to the aircraft swooshed open like a nuclear gateway to a bank vault to reveal six fully-armed police officers. And the first thing I did was say, ‘First of all, he had nothing to do with it.’ I pointed to Charlie. And then I very gingerly, very delicately, very kindly, talked my way out of going to airport jail.”

Though they both narrowly avoided a trip to airport jail, there is no question each got a bit of a fright. “I didn’t know [Sheen] was doing [cocaine], I just knew that it was not a good situation. But again, it’s in my past.”