EVER since he touched down in Scotland the Not Quite Nicolas Cage Man has been having a rough time of it. Yesterday he was bombarded with all those questions – from so many people! – in that crazy accent that’s nigh on impossible to understand: Say what, fella? Could you repeat that, please?

Today he’s suffering from a bladder infection which is making him feel gut-groaningly grim. Later on he’ll have to schlep over to some strange hospital in this strange land and get the sucker treated. Not for the first time, either. He always gets sick when he travels. And the Not Quite Nicolas Cage Man travels plenty. At least he used to. Back in the days when being the Not Quite Nicolas Cage Man was still a full-time gig. These days he’s mostly just a middle-aged property developer named Marco Kyris. Except for this weekend, of course, when all the memories have come flooding back.

For ten years Marco Kyris was paid handsomely to be a stand-in for the movie star Nicolas Cage, travelling with him around the world. I meet up with him in Glasgow’s CCA, where he’s the guest of honour at this year’s Cage-A-Rama, a film festival dedicated to the oeuvre of Nicolas Cage.

For those who have been hiding under a rock for the past few decades (rather than watching The Rock, one of Cage’s best known flicks) some background information about the Hollywood actor will probably come in useful at this point.

Overhead karate kick

Cage is no ordinary mummer, content to recite his lines, then look half-interested while other actors on set do likewise. When Cage appears in a movie he (to use a technical cinematic term) gives it pure laldy. More over the top than the Somme, he doesn’t merely chew up scenery. He masticates it into submission. Chows down on it like he’s dealing with a sliver of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum.

This larger than life persona spills over into his private life, too. In one unforgettable television appearance with Terry Wogan in the 1980s, a leather-jacket wearing Cage initiates proceedings by summersaulting into Terry’s presence then performing what can best be described as an overhead karate kick.

He has owned castles in Bavaria and England, as well as the most haunted house in America. At one time he was married to Lisa Marie Presley (he’s a big Elvis fan) and has also been on a quest for the Holy Grail.

All of which makes him sound rather eccentric. Though Marco says that’s not the Nic he knew back in the day.

“He may seem like he’s the sort of actor who just shows up, then he’s hanging from the ceiling, but that’s not who he is. Everything looks spontaneous and insane, but in fact it’s all meticulously rehearsed.”

Apparently Cage runs a tight ship on set, where fun and games of any sort are frowned upon.

“He’s a very good guy,” says Marco, who was a struggling Canadian actor and sometime waiter before auditioning successfully to work with the man he bears a striking resemblance to. “Nic really takes care of everyone around him and makes sure you have every comfort; that you’re respected on set and that you respect everyone else on set.

“But he also has a strong work ethic. There’s no room for tardiness. You can’t be insane or drugged up or drunk. You can’t sleep with anyone on set. All these things are rules. If you break the rules you’re fired. Simple as that.”

All kinds of crazy stuff

Most people outside of the biz probably imagine that being in the movies is a blast. Marco’s mission seems to be to dispel that illusion and rob the industry of any vestiges of unearned glamour. First up, he explains to me what being Cage’s stand-in really means. Movie-making is a long, arduous and often tedious process. A major star doesn’t necessarily want to be on set for most of the faffing and fussing. So he will rehearse a scene a few times before skipping off to spend quality time in his excessively large trailer. Then, while the lighting and camera movements are worked out, a stand in will take the place of the actor, replicating his actions. This process can take many, many hours. Eventually, when the director is happy with the set-up, the actor returns to play the scene, grab the glory and hopefully win a statuette or two, come awards season.

Being a stand in may sound like an easy gig, but it’s not. Marco often had to wake at 3am in a strange country, then drive to the distant location of a film set, in some godforsaken neck of the woods, to start work at five in the morning. He was never given any help in navigating the exotic terrain. Just tossed a map and warned not to be late. If he had turned up late, he would have been fired on the spot, and that would have been the end of his career.

He also couldn’t take time off, even when seriously ill. “Sometimes I’d be sick as a dog. Ready to die. But I’d show up and do my stuff.”

Many of the scenes he was involved in were punishing. “I don’t know how I got through some of them. From lying in the desert, to being up to my neck in water, to having a 5000lb anchor laid over me. That was brutal. There was all kinds of crazy stuff I never imagined my body would have to cope with.”

Marco teamed-up with Cage from his thirties until his forties, then the movie star decided to make changes in the coterie of professionals who regularly worked with him. The services of his faithful doppelganger were dispensed with 15 years ago.

Now 58, the Former Not Quite Nicolas Cage Man says he’s now living a much fuller life. He hasn’t talked to Cage since leaving the movie business, and is quite content in the world of property investment, where he has made good money, and is looking forward to early retirement. He was even wary of getting involved in Cage-A-Rama, not wishing to be dragged back into the world of Cage. Though he tells me that now he’s here, talking to fans, he’s enjoying the event. (Apart from bladder angst, of course, and struggling to decipher that loopy local lingo.)

Nic’s manic glare

I’m having a blast, too. Although I’ve never been a hardcore Cage groupie, I’m intrigued by the passion of those who are. I spot one girl clothed in Nicolas Cage tights (very fetching) and numerous T-shirted fellows with Nic’s manic glare smeared across their chests.

There’s also memorabilia for sale, including Spanish-language fanzines (La enciclopedia sobre Nicolas Cage) and stickers (Stickolas Cage). I sit through an enjoyably awful action flick called Fire Birds, where somebody remarks at one point, whilst blasting a hefty gun: “Snort that, sucker!”

Alas, Cage himself does not turn up at Cage-A-Rama. Sean Welsh, one of the programmers of the event which has been organised by Matchbox Cineclub for the past three years, says he’s been in touch with the great man’s agent, and hopes that one day he’ll be able to coax him into a live, and no doubt lively, appearance.

Though Sean adds that it’s not essential that Cage makes it to Scotland. “I don’t need him to be in Glasgow,” he tells me. “I’m just glad he’s out there somewhere. Abroad in the world. He’s such an avatar for life-energy and absurdity. Notions that we can all buy into and enjoy.

“We can all live vicariously through Cage. He’s out there living it large, so that we don’t have to.”