'I'm going to ruin this movie': Lily Sheen faced knife-throwing anxiety filming Nicolas Cage comedy

·5 min read

AUSTIN, Texas – Lily Sheen suffered a serious case of first-day jitters on the set of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

In the comedic action movie (in theaters April 22), Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself in need of work and money. He ends up partnering with the CIA to take down a notorious crime family in Spain. Sheen, 23, plays Cage's teenage daughter Addy, who is fed up with her father's need to be a scene stealer, even off-screen.

On her first day, she needed to chuck a knife to Cage in a pivotal scene.

"I'm not sporty," she said Sunday, a day after the film premiered during the South by Southwest festival to a crowd that consistently hollered for Cage. "I was like, 'I'm not going to be able to throw this,' and I was bugging out, like, 'Oh, my God. I'm going to ruin this movie on the first (day). I’m not going to be able to throw it.'"

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Nicolas Cage, Lily Sheen and Sharon Horgan star in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."
Nicolas Cage, Lily Sheen and Sharon Horgan star in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

Sheen turned to Cage, who she says stayed on the set even when he wasn't shooting. "He has a real dad energy," she says. "So it was nice to be able to be like, 'Help me. How do I throw this?'"

Eventually, they got the scene.

“What you can see in the movie is probably the 60th try we have,” she says with a laugh.

Cage also felt fatherly toward Sheen, a London native.

"I genuinely had really in-depth conversations, mutual interests about movies, about books, about life," Cage said at the Paramount Theatre. "She has these big eyes, and I started having paternal feelings just working with her. I think that comes through."

Sheen, the real-life daughter of actors Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, has a few previous acting credits of her own, as a young child: "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), "Click" (2006) and "Everybody's Fine" (2009). All of them star Beckinsale, but Sheen says she auditioned for the roles.

Sheen reveals whose acting career she'd like to mirror, her parents' reaction to her ambitions, and what advice they gave her. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

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Question: Your mom attended "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" premiere. What was it like to share that moment with her, and what was her reaction?

Lily Sheen: It was amazing. It really is. I wanted her to see it. I wanted her opinion on it, and I'm just happy that she got to come and be in the experience with me. She was going crazy. We were all screaming.

Q: What are your career ambitions?

Sheen: I love acting. I'd love to write something as well. I've been writing for a while, but I think acting primarily. It's so cathartic. This movie has been amazing, very therapeutic for me. It's been nice to be able to see, like, "Oh, this is how my life could have gone if my parents weren't amazing."

Q: When did you know you wanted to be an actress?

Sheen: We did "High School Musical" (in a theater group) and I was Ms. Darbus, the old woman. But I had the wig, and the outfit, and I remember there was a night when I was on stage and I was supposed to be scolding Troy or something, I got chills. I was like, 'I feel like her and it's the whole look and everything.' Being 9, I'm playing a 50-year-old woman. So it was amazing. It is transformative, and that's what I really liked about it.

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Lily Sheen arrives at the premiere of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" during Austin's SXSW festival.
Lily Sheen arrives at the premiere of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" during Austin's SXSW festival.

Q: Whose career would you like to emulate?

Sheen: Laura Dern has the most impressive career to me. I love David Lynch (who directed her in "Twin Peaks"). I don't think I'll ever be a Lynch girl, but she has such a beautiful career, and she's a phenomenal actress.

Q: Did your parents encourage you or deter your dream of being an actor?

Sheen: I'm sure it wasn't ideal. I bet they would have wished I'd gone to medical school, but they're so supportive. They would've supported me doing anything. And they have no leg to stand on.

Q: Did they give you any career advice or acting tips?

Sheen: No, they've really let me figure it out on my own, which I'm really grateful for because I do feel like I'm my own actor and my own person from being able to learn through failing. And I'm very stubborn, so I'm like, "I don't need help. I'm fine."

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Kate Beckinsale and her daughter, Lily Sheen, pose at a benefit on Oct. 19, 2013, in Santa Monica, California.
Kate Beckinsale and her daughter, Lily Sheen, pose at a benefit on Oct. 19, 2013, in Santa Monica, California.

Q: Your mom has shared your comedic text exchanges to Instagram. Is humor a big part of your relationship?

Sheen: Massive, and what's so great about my family is we're not very self-serious. There's always been ribbing and roasting each other, and roasting ourselves. It's definitely made me a bit hard-skinned. I can take anything. It's fun. My mum's really into pranks. She loves pranking people. People always say, "You guys are so funny. You should have a reality show."

Q: Would that ever happen?

Sheen: Hell, no! (laughs) Absolutely not.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lily Sheen: 'Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,' Nicolas Cage