Church chiefs apologised yesterday after allowing Hollywood star Nicolas Cage to use an historic abbey to promote his latest film – which features sorcery and black magic.
Local churchgoers were furious when the actor was granted access to Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset at 3am to carry out a live interview with an American TV show.
They claim it was ”offensive” to allow the sacred 7th century site to be used to promote ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, in which Cage stars as a modern-day sorcerer.
The custodians of the abbey have now apologised for any offence caused but insisted the ”dignity and spiritual sanctity” of the site were preserved.
Cage, 46, owns a home in Baltonsborough near Glastonbury and personally chose the abbey as the backdrop for the interview.
He has a keen interest in mythology and said to have bought the £800,000 property because it stands on a mystical ley line.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stars Cage as Balthazar Blake, a master sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan trying to defend New York from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath.
His interview with ABC’s late night Jimmy Kimmel Show took place in June, with the host ‘summoning’ the actor with the use of a magic wand.
It was filmed at 3am British time to coincide with the prime-time slot in America.
Pointing to where monks claimed the tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere was found, Cage said: ”I am here in the very magical and sacred Glastonbury Abbey.
”I couldn’t think of a better place to launch the trailer for my new movie, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
But local worshipper Mike Derbidge, from Glastonbury, blasted: ”I was horrified and disgusted to find that he was let into Glastonbury Abbey in the middle of the night to promote his latest film.’
”This film is full of sorcery, witchcraft and black magic and to me it is offensive to broadcast from a religious place like this.
”I am shocked to think that the management of the abbey would allow this to take place.
”Glastonbury Abbey first and foremost is a church and a place of worship.
”Services are still held there on a regular basis, and pilgrims from all over the world, Anglican and Catholic, worship there.
”I am sure by using the abbey to advertise this film, it has given them a lot of money and confirms what a lot of locals are thinking – that the management would like to see the wonderful Abbey with all its history turned into a theme park.”
Mr Derbidge said he had been approached by many other locals who supported his view that the historic Abbey should concentrate on its rich religious heritage.
Glastonbury Abbey’s buildings and ruins – fuelled by legend surrounding King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea – have been a pilgrimage site for Christians for centuries.
After initially celebrating the live link-up as ‘wonderful’, Abbey managers were forced to retreat into an apology.
Katherine Gorbing, director of Glastonbury Abbey, said: ”I would like to express how sorry we are that Mr Derbidge was offended by the live broadcast by Nicolas Cage.
”We extend this apology to anyone else who was offended as that was never our intention.
”Glastonbury Abbey has hosted many theatrical and film companies over the years and we continue to take great care when considering activities in the Abbey ruins, St Joseph of Arimathea Crypt and St Patrick’s Chapel to ensure the Abbey’s spiritual significance, its Christian heritage and rich history and traditions are respected.
”Besides talking about his role in the film, Mr Cage demonstrated tremendous generosity in voluntarily promoting Glastonbury and the abbey to millions of Americans.
”On this occasion, Mr Cage, the cameraman, broadcast engineer and producer took great care throughout the filming to honour the dignity and spiritual sanctity of the Abbey.
”We hope Mr Cage’s promotion will attract more American visitors to Glastonbury.”
The blockbuster – produced by celebrated filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer – grossed nearly #4million dollars in its opening weekend following Cage’s broadcast.
But it recieved a lukewarm response from critics and was listed at number one in Parade Magazine’s ‘Biggest Box Office Flops of 2010’.
Californian-born Cage has been one of Hollywood’s leading actors for almost two decades, starring in a string of blockbusters including Face/Off and Gone In 60 Seconds.