Nicolas Cage told reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival that he decided to drop out of Michel Gondry's adaptation of The Green Hornet because he wasn't satisfied by the way his character, the Green Hornet's nemesis Chudnofsky, was written. According to Cage, the character lacked "humanity" and any sort of background as to why he was a bad guy, and that he "wasn't interested in just being just a straight-up bad guy who was killing people willy-nilly."

It's a bit hard to take Cage's explanation seriously, since he was at the festival to promote his new movie, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, directed by Werner Herzog. As Eugene Novikov wrote in his review of the movie, Cage's character is the self-serious yet off-the-wall type we've come to expect from the actor.
Bad Lieutenant has several of the year's highlights, including a tour de force in which Lieutenant McDonagh stops a pair of youngsters on their way home from a club, confiscates their drugs, snorts them, and has sex with the girl while forcing the guy to watch. (You have to imagine this performed in a full-on Nic Cage-ean fury for the full effect.) He's one bad Lieutenant indeed, though the movie makes clear that he has an honest streak: he'll pocket all the dope he can, but -- unlike his partner, played by Val Kilmer -- he stops short at, say, murdering a drug dealer in "self-defense" to pocket his money.
He also points a gun at a grandmother, smokes crack, and hallucinates an iguana. Let's not forget his tour de force of beating up women in the absolutely unnecessary remake of The Wicker Man. But a comic book character bad guy -- no way!

Instead, Christoph Waltz from Inglourious Basterds will be taking over. Ironically enough, Waltz's ability to bring an eerie humanity to his character Col. Hans Landa (aka the Jew Hunter) won him the Best Actor award at Cannes and has Oscar watchers already placing bets on a Supporting Actor nomination. Although I'll miss Nic Cage's hysterical outbursts in The Green Hornet, chances are good that Waltz will be a better baddie.