Nicolas Cage broke out in laughter during a recent Vanity Fair video interview when forced to watch the infamous scene from 2004’s “National Treasure” in which his character, treasure hunter and cryptographer Benjamin Gates, says for the first time, “I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence.” The line of dialogue has been a calling card for Cage’s career for 19 years now and counting, and it’s inspired countless memes and parodies on the internet.
“How do you take something that is so profoundly ridiculous and really try to sell it?” Cage said while watching the infamous moment. “What I really like about that scene just seeing it again for the first time in however many years is I like the positivity of the character. He really believes this. He really reveres it. I think that’s charming.”
“I can’t even say it without laughing,” he added about the line. “It has been meme’d so many times. It has been ‘SNL’d.’ But you can’t help but laugh! I think what makes it work is how serious Justin [Bartha] and I are taking it. If you play it for laughs, then it’s screwball comedy and it’s stupid and it’s not my thing. That’s not where I’m at. The fact that we’d played it as dramatic actors makes it even more funny than it might’ve been if it was slapstick.”
“I think Jon Turteltaub shot it lovingly,” Cage continued. “He made the characters look like they had great reverence and regard [for it] … like a holy object. But to punch it with ‘I’m going to steal it’ is so ridiculous you just can’t help but love it. It’s nice to see that scene again.”
“National Treasure” was a box office hit for Cage and Disney in the mid 2000s, grossing $347 million at the worldwide box office while becoming a classic adventure film for family audiences. A sequel, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” was released in 2007 to an even bigger $459 million worldwide. A third film has long percolated but has never gone into development, although Disney returned to the franchise for the Disney+ series “National Treasure: Edge of History.” The show debuted in December 2022 but was canceled after one season.
Franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer said around the same time of the show’s streaming premiere that “we were developing [another] ‘National Treasure’ for the theaters with Nicolas Cage — which we still are. So, that’s ongoing.” However, there’s been no official word beyond that.
Cast member Justin Bartha told Variety last year that “there is still hope for another movie,” adding that “the constant drum beat from fans for a third movie just makes it a no-brainer for me … There is a script. That’s all I’ll say. There have been a few different scripts, actually, but the one thing that has to happen is for all the stars to align.”
Watch Cage’s full Vanity Fair video interview below.