What are your interests?
Personally, my interests are ancient history and ancient civilizations.  In my own life, I’d like to go to places like Ankowat or Easter Island.  It would be fascinating to see Ben go to those places as well and see how they could all tie together somehow. The way we left the movie, the president asked me what was on page 47.  I wanted to figure out what I could say that would make people interested in what is on page 47.  I thought of the words “life-altering.”  So whatever it is, it’s going to have to be life-altering.

In the film, Ben makes a comment to the president that many today would consider old-fashioned.  He implies that because of the office of the presidency, he admires the man and considers him to be an honorable man.  Do you think that’s an old-fashioned value that has no place in today’s society?
Well …

Without getting political!
Yeah, I’d rather not.  Ben is really speaking what we all want to believe. In a way, he is charging the president, saying, “You took this office.  This is the oath. Are you going to perform or not?”  That’s how I saw that.

Were there any conversations while filming to keep it from veering off into current events or perhaps criticism?
You know, that was always the concern from day one, even before principal photography—that scene with the president. I kept going over it and over it and over it in my room, late at night.  I would look at it, I would rewrite it, I would tinker with it.  I would send the pages back to the powers that be at Bruckheimer Films.  They would fact-check it or go through it with their writers.  We tinkered with it.  I realized the importance of that scene not lapsing into something overtly political or sentimental or maudlin, but to try and get to the root and simplicity of it.  It became clear to me that it was an overture to the president to step up.  Whatever there is about politics—and we all know that lying is endemic to politics—we used what was good and what was meant to be and what we want to believe, to be the overture.

The Gates family in the film is very connected to their ancestors.  Can you relate to that, as far as your acting career?
I do relate to that. I think so.  It began with Carmine Coppola.  We didn’t come from money.  He came here because he could play the flute, and he joined Toscanini’s Orchestra, no less, as the chair flautist.  The most beautiful thing happened about two years ago.  I was sleeping.  The TV was on the arts channel, and I heard this flute and I woke up.  It was my grandfather playing the flute, “The Dance of the Blessed Spirits.”  I’m getting chills thinking about it.  It was like he was talking to me. It was amazing. He was the beginning of our history in the arts.  Then he married my grandmother’s family.  He was writing songs and composing and from there, it just kept going—Frances and Sophia and Talia and everybody.

Book of Secrets releases right before Christmas.  What are the Cage holiday traditions and what are you doing to celebrate?
This year, I’m going to do something new.  I’m going to have a Dickens Christmas.  I’m going to take everyone to England.  I’ve never done that, and I want to just walk around Bath and see how they celebrate the holidays.  I’ve always fantasized about that.

Why Bath?
Because when I’m in Bath I feel like I’m walking around a snow globe.  I’m in this contained, beautiful, historic universe.  Everybody’s really, really nice, and I don’t have to use a car and I can walk everywhere.  I feel like I’m in touch with the past and world events and history—I’m going to other places and I’m learning things.  It’s helping me grow.