Nicolas Cage took acting inspiration from the cobras who tried to hypnotise him.

The 55-year-old actor used to have two king cobras, who he claimed tried to hypnotise him, and he has revealed that he used the snakes to help him when he was preparing for a role in 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'.

He told the New York Times: ''Those are true stories. I did have two king cobras, and they were not happy. They would try to hypnotise me by showing me their backs, and then they'd lunge at me.

''The cobras, definitely [influenced me]. They would try to hypnotise you by going side to side, and when I did 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance', that's something my character does before he attacks. Animals are fun places to get inspiration.''

Nicolas also spoke about getting high on magic mushrooms with a cat.

He said: ''The cat - a friend of mine gave me this bag of mushrooms, and my cat would go in my refrigerator and grab it, almost like he knew what it was. He loved it. Then I started going, 'I guess I'll do it'. It was a peaceful and beautiful experience. But I subsequently threw them out.''

And Nicolas opened up about the controversial Tyrannosaurus skull he bought in 2007, which he subsequently had to return to Mongolia after discovering it had been stolen.

He said: ''The dinosaur skull was an unfortunate thing, because I did spend $276,000 on that. I bought it at a legitimate auction and found out it was abducted from Mongolia illegally, and then I had to give it back. Of course it should be awarded to its country of origin. But who knew? Plus, I never got my money back. So that stank.''

At one time, Nicolas had a huge property portfolio including homes in Malibu, New Orleans and the Caribbean along with castles in Germany and England and he revealed he was inspired in his purchases by his ''grail quest''.

He said: '' That was the time when I almost went on - you might call it a grail quest. I started following mythology, and I was finding properties that aligned with that. It was almost like 'National Treasure'.

''One thing would lead to another. For me it was all about where was the grail? Was it here? Was it there? Is it at Glastonbury? Does it exist? That led to there being talk that people had come to Rhode Island, and they were looking for something as well.

''I don't know if I'm going to say that's why I bought the Rhode Island property. But I will say that is why I went to Rhode Island, and I happened to find the place beautiful. But yes, this had put me on a search around different areas, mostly in England, but also some places in the States. What I ultimately found is: What is the Grail but Earth itself?''