It's due to more than simple synchronicity that Nicolas Cage is both star of the new film "Ghost Rider," playing Marvel Comics' supernatural bounty hunter, and executive producer of Sci Fi Channel's Sunday-night series "The Dresden Files," based on Jim Butcher's novels about a Chicago private eye and professional wizard.
"I wanted to find interesting material that would correspond with the movies I was making in 2007," Cage tells Zap2it. "This is the year where I wanted to explore spiritual elements in my work or metaphysical elements in my work. I'm doing that with 'Ghost Rider' and with 'Dresden Files' for television.
"I thought how interesting it would be to have a detective that worked in the metaphysical realm. I was a big fan of the early 'Night Stalker' television series, with Darren McGavin. That was really my influence.
"So, when I heard about the possibility of developing a character who is a supernatural detective, I thought, 'That's right up my alley. That, to me, sounds like fascinating entertainment.'"
Other influences stretch back into Cage's childhood.
"I grew up on Marvel [Comics]," he says. "I liked the monsters. I was into 'The Hulk' and 'Ghost Rider.'"
In "Ghost Rider," Cage plays motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze, who strikes a deal with demonic forces and roars through the night on a flaming motorcycle (which matches his flaming skull).
In "The Dresden Files," which premiered Jan. 21, detective Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) uses his magical skills to deal with cases involving extraordinary forces and creatures.
Cage sees much in common between the two.
"'Ghost Rider' was a comic book that dealt with supernatural, spiritual themes," he says. "It dealt with classic themes like 'Faust' and 'Beauty and the Beast' that was right up my alley because I had an interest in that, as well as 'The Dresden Files,' which deals with those kind of possibilities, depending on whether or not you have an open mind."
Both also use the occasional light touch while dealing with dark themes.
"The best entertainment, for me," Cage says, "is a mixture of horror and comedy. That happened with 'American Werewolf in London,' and it happens again with 'Ghost Rider' and also with 'Dresden Files.' You're dealing with subject matter where you can't take yourself too seriously.
"You have to have a playful mind with it. That's when it works. That's when it becomes more palatable to audiences."
"'Dresden' is really lighter than noir," says Norm Golightly, Cage's partner in Saturn Films. "We'll have to come up with a new name for this show. We have to find something. Maybe Pinot Noir."
Cage laughs, and then says, "I don't know. I had some ideas, but they were stupid, so I'm not going to share them with you."
As to whether he might make a cameo appearance on "The Dresden Files," Cage says, "Never say never. At the moment, I'm not prepared to do that."
Of course, he could always appear under special-effects makeup.
"You never know," Cage says, "that may have already happened."