Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage's Weird But True Relationship

Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage
Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images

Relationships are hard enough, but throw some paparazzi and Hollywood egos into the mix and they become that much harder. Perhaps that's why so many celebrity marriages seem to end in divorce — barring a few exceptions (we're looking at you, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds). Among this cohort is the notable, if not bizarre, coupling of Oscar and SAG Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage, 58, and Oscar, Emmy, and SAG Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette, 54.

Keep scrolling for Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette's complete relationship timeline.

How They Met

Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage
Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images

In the late ‘80s, Arquette ran into Cage and Crispin Glover at Canter’s deli in L.A. and they both told the then-19-year-old actress that they were going to marry her. But Cage 5 years her senior, was apparently more committed than Crispin and asked Arquette to provide a list of things (“like a quest”) for him to find and bring her in order to prove his worthiness as a spouse. The Medium star played along, offering a list of seemingly impossible finds that included J.D. Salinger’s autograph (he issued notoriously few signatures throughout his career), a black orchid (which doesn’t actually exist), a Lisu tribe wedding costume, and a Bob’s Big Boy statue.

“One by one they started coming to me,” Arquette told Andy Cohen of the objects on her list. In lieu of a black orchid, Cage found a purple one and showed up at Arquette’s home with a can of black spray paint.

“She wouldn’t come out, but I could see her peeking down from the top floor. In my very showy way, I whipped the orchid out of my pocket. Then I whipped out the paint can and started spray-painting the orchid black. She was freaked out. I rang the doorbell again and she came down. I just gave it to her and got back on my motorcycle and left,” he told Playboy in ’96. Next Cage found a rare letter written by Salinger, bought it for $2,500, and again showed up at Arquette’s home bearing gifts.

She was playing hopscotch in the street with her girlfriends when Cage arrived. He dropped the autograph in a cigar box outside and left. Later, she called him in a tizzy and told him to stop. “It scared me,” she later explained. Cage said he had a chainsaw ready and was prepared to steal a Bob’s Big Boy statue for her when she agreed — not to marry, but to go away with him.

They’d planned to go to Cuba but were stalled in Mexico due to an issue with their airplane tickets. Cage, in a move typical of many of his rageful characters, had a public meltdown at the airport, sending him and Patricia on their separate ways. Both began respective families soon after: Cage welcomed son Weston with then-girlfriend Christina Fulton and Arquette, son Enzo with then-boyfriend Paul Rossi.

Flash-forward: the year is 1995, the place that same L.A. deli in which Cage’s quest for Arquette’s hand was outlined. The actors run into each other again. "I needed to be reassured that the depth of his love would be as brave as before," Arquette told the New York Times on reevaluating their connection nearly a decade later. Apparently, it was, and they wed atop a cliff in Carmel, California, two weeks after their chance encounter.

Why We Loved Them

Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette arriving at the 68th Annual Academy Awards in LA, 03/25/1996
Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

The only witnesses to their nuptials were Carmel’s former police chief and “a pod of sea otters," reported People. If that sentence doesn’t encapsulate the bizarre bent of Hollywood in the ‘90s, we don’t know what would.

When They Peaked

Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette
Ron Wolfson/Getty Images

When they wed in ’95, it was Arquette that proposed — and we’re not talking rose petals and sandy walks along the beach. No, she popped the question at Cage’s house, where she arrived “dressed head to toe in black vinyl, carrying a big purple wedding cake,” reported Paper. Luckily, this was the moment the National Treasure star realized “I was with the right woman.”

The Breakup

Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette
Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images

The true trajectory of Cage and Arquette’s marriage is somewhat unclear. E! reported that the pair separated nine months after marrying and spent years filing and withdrawing divorce papers before citing “irreconcilable differences” in their ultimate 2000 split.

Arquette, however, says the rumors of their early separation were untrue. “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,” she 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.”

"It's always hard to make that decision to get divorced," she told Paper 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."

Though their union reportedly found a “mutual and respectful” end, Cage admitted to The Guardian in 2018 that he and Arquette hadn’t spoken “in a long time.”

Where They Are Now

In the years since the dissolution of their marriage, Cage has starred in countless films, perhaps most notable was Adaptation for which he received a Golden Globe nomination in 2003. Other awards the actor has been nominated for? 10 Razzies.

Soon after splitting from Arquette, Cage began dating Lisa Marie Presley, whom he wed in 2002 and filed for divorce from less than four months later. In 2004 Cage married Alice Kim, with whom he shares son Kal-El. They split in early 2016.

Arquette’s star has risen exponentially in the past two decades. After seven seasons leading NBC drama Medium (for which she won an Emmy in 2005), she returned to film and picked up an Oscar for her performance in Richard Linklater’s decades-spanning tome Boyhood. Arquette won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her performance in Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora. She will be starring in the upcoming comedy series High Desert.

Patricia welcomed daughter Harlow with actor Thomas Jane in 2003 — they wed three years later and Arquette filed for divorce in early 2009. She’s been linked to painter Eric White since 2014.

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