One day in 1987, an 18-year-old Patricia Arquette headed to Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, Calif., presumably for a corned-beef sandwich. Because this is Hollywood, baby, Arquette bumped into two fellow actors at the deli: Crispin Glover and Nicolas Cage. With all the drama of a classic film, both Cage and Glover told Arquette then and there that they were going to marry her.
According to InStyle, the then-23-year-old Cage was more serious about the declaration than Glover was. While Arquette declined the actor’s sudden marriage proposal, she instead sent him on “a Princess Bride-level quest,” according to Paper. She drew up a list of extremely hard-to-find items that he could gather and present to her in order to show his devotion and ultimately earn his way into her heart. “One by one they started coming to me,” Arquette said of the gifts during a 2018 interview with Andy Cohen for Watch What Happens Live!. That so-called “quest” began the decade-long unfolding of an unconventional Hollywood love story.
Patricia Arquette got "freaked out" by Nic Cage's gifts and fame
Nicolas Cage bought a rare letter written by J.D. Salinger for $2,500 in order to fulfill Patricia Arquette’s request for an autograph from the notoriously private author. After Cage dropped it off at her house, a scared Arquette called him and asked him to stop taking her requests seriously, according to InStyle. But Cage was determined.
Arquette’s list also included a black orchid, which doesn’t actually exist. One day, Cage arrived at Arquette’s place with a purple orchid and a can of black spray paint. Arquette watched as he spray-painted the orchid black, presented it to her, and then sped off on his motorcycle.
During a 1996 interview for Playboy (via InStyle), Cage said that Arquette “was freaked out” by his over-the-top gift-bearing. Still, after he assured her that he had his chainsaw at the ready and was prepared to saw down one of the giant Bob’s Big Boy statues she requested, Arquette agreed to go Cuba with him, and the pair embarked on a three-week romance.
But according to InStyle, the pair were “stalled in Mexico due to an issue with their airplane tickets” on their way to Cuba. Cage proceeded to have “a public meltdown at the airport,” unraveling all of his efforts to win Arquette’s heart. “His success was scary to me,” Arquette later told Rolling Stone (via Paper) of the reason for their separation. “I couldn’t touch him.” The pair parted and soon started families with new partners.
Cage and Arquette's love story involved a Jewish deli, black vinyl, and a pod of otters
Eight years later, in March 1995, Patricia Arquette headed back to Canter’s Deli for a midnight snack and collided with none other than Nicolas Cage. “I needed to be reassured that the depth of his love would be as brave as before,” Arquette told The New York Times of their reconnection.
“When she showed up at my house dressed head to toe in black vinyl, carrying a big purple wedding cake, I knew I was with the right woman,” Cage told Rolling Stone (via Paper). Two weeks after their deli reunion, Arquette swapped her black vinyl for a leopard-print jacket and married Cage during a 10-minute ceremony on top of a cliff in Carmel, Calif. According to Paper, the couple had the town’s “former chief of police, a lady preacher and a raft of otters” as their only witnesses, and they then “rode away in a blue Ferrari and off into the sunset.” Now that’s True Romance!
Arquette and Cage's breakup was as helter-skelter as their romance
Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette reportedly separated after nine months of marriage, at the beginning of 1996. “There were times when we weren’t living together because we were fighting, but it wasn’t as reported and I didn’t feel that I needed to explain that,” Arquette told The Telegraph in 2015. “There were times when my mom was dying [from breast cancer in 1997] and I was living with her, taking care of her. There were times when he was away working on a movie. It was our thing. I still don’t feel like I owe it to anyone. It’s funny when people are so wrong, and they put you in this position and decide who you are.”
According to InStyle, the timeline of the couple’s marriage is not exactly clear-cut. The pair reportedly “spent years filing and withdrawing divorce papers.” When they officially split in 2000, they cited “irreconcilable differences,” and their divorce was finalized the following year.
“It’s always hard to make that decision to get divorced,” Arquette told Paper (via InStyle) in 2002. “We’ve both moved on with our lives, and I think it’s important to honor the people we’re with now, and concentrate on the future.”
In a 2018 interview for The Guardian, Cage said that he hadn’t spoken to Arquette “in a long time.”
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