No one needs to remind us that those adolescent years can be tough, to say the least. Add on top of that simmering concoction of hormones, identity crises, and peer and family pressure the unimaginable stress of being the child of a public figure — say, one of the most famous actors on the planet? — and those teen years can feel (we’ll say it) unbearable. In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Lily Sheen plays Addy, the daughter of a fictitious iteration of actor Nicolas Cage and his fictional former wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan). In the film, Addy is trying to define her own identity while her father goes through a career-related identity crisis of his own, and actress Sheen was faced with the challenge of both immersing herself in her breakout acting role and recognizing the parallels to her own life as the child of famous parents Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen. SheKnows chatted with the burgeoning young talent about both aspects of the filmmaking process in our exclusive interview.
In this latest Nicolas Cage vehicle, the esteemed actor plays himself in a highly meta story about Nick Cage deciding to retire from acting — only after he’s entertained an eccentric super fan named Javi (Pedro Pascal) for his birthday for a cool million dollars. The para-social relationship turns into a real-life friendship, until Nick finds out from two intelligence agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) that Javi might be one of the most dangerous men in the world. What ensues is Nick’s turn as a secret agent to try and save the day — and by extension save his relationship with his daughter.
Underneath its absurdity, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent finds touching moments between its characters, particularly when it comes to the father-daughter bond between Addy and Nick. “I think the thing that I really love about that relationship is that it’s kind of universal,” Sheen observed of the characters’ complex interactions.
“I think everyone can relate to that feeling of their family trying to sort of force them into a box or a mold that doesn’t necessarily reflect who they actually are as people. And I definitely can relate to that feeling of wanting to be recognized for your own uniqueness, especially by your family,” she shared.
Sheen is the daughter (and only child) of actors Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, and knows a thing or two about navigating those parent-child relationships, especially ones that are so unique when your parent is under constant scrutiny — a quality where Sheen found a lot of commonality with her character.
“I think the journey they end up going on is really beautiful because there’s so much give and take, and at the end, they end up really loving each other for who they are, and taking each other and not expecting any more,” the actress continued. “I think the only thing you can ask for in a father is unconditional love and support, that can really show through from unconditional acceptance of whoever you are as a person. That was really beautiful to be able to play out on screen with Nick, especially.”
That same unconditional love and support Sheen found in the relationship with her on-screen dad isn’t far from the environment in which she grew up with her own parents.
“My family has been great,” Sheen shared of her parents’ support of her career. “They sort of do the approach of, like, push you, let you fly, which I love, and that’s how I work best.”
Sheen noted, however, she feels “incredibly lucky to have been able to have that kind of connection to the industry that not a lot of people have. Even just on a microcosmic level, parents that really are accepting of the odds and understand having a passion and wanting to be in the arts — which I think is something that a lot of people in my position don’t realize is not universal for everyone.”
Along with unyielding support, Sheen’s parents have “been great in being able to teach me about professionalism in the workplace in a really general sense and recognizing that this is everyone’s job. There’s magic and fun involved, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to all create a vision, and Tom [Gormican], the director, really was clear on his vision and I didn’t want to let him down. I’m glad that I was able to take what my family told me and really respond to the story, help the other cast, and be able to put this together.”
From her upbringing to her natural poise, talent, and charisma, Lily Sheen has all the makings of a career that will make her parents proud.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits theaters April 22.
Before you go, click here to see more celebrity kids following in their parents’ acting footsteps.