James Caan dies: all about his life and movies, including 'The Godfather'

Frequent Twitter user and great actor
Sonny Corleone
Oscar-nominated actor
From The Bronx
A tough guy
He didn't want to be a butcher
He met Coppola at Hofstra University
Paramount didn't want him as Sonny...
They wanted him as Michael
Coppola prevailed
Rejected amazing projects
He could have been Superman
And despite everything...
'El Dorado' (1966)
'Funny Lady' (1975)
'Rollerball' (1975)
'Comes a Horseman' (1978)
'Thief' (1981)
'Misery' (1990)
'Dogville' (2003)
'Las Vegas' (2003-2008)
Four wives and five children
James 'Sensei' Caan
He supported Trump in 2016
His Twitter is Hollywood history
"The passing of Jimmy" Caan

"It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time." That was the confirmation of James Caan's family that the actor had passed away.

Frequent Twitter user and great actor

It is no coincidence that James Caan's family chose Twitter to make the official announcement of his passing. He was a fervent user of the platform. But more than that, he was one of the great actors of the 20th century.

"End of tweet"

It is also no coincidence that they ended their statement with the following words: "End of tweet." That's the same formula James Caan himself always used. At 82 years old, he was an interesting Twitter user who shared wonderful photos.

Photo: Twitter - @james_caan

Sonny Corleone

James Caan will always be remembered for his famous role as Sonny Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's film series 'The Godfather'.

Oscar-nominated actor

James Caan received his first and only Oscar nomination as a supporting actor for his role in the first installment of the saga ('The Godfather,' 1972). The award went to Joel Gray that year, for 'Cabaret.'

From The Bronx

James Caan went down in history as one of Hollywood's tough guys. He was an actor and a person of excess whose origins in The Bronx, New York were his trademark.

A tough guy

In fact, most of his characters, with some honorable exceptions, were tough, grumpy guys with a neighborhood cockiness that James Caan brought from his background in The Bronx.

He didn't want to be a butcher

Born in 1940, the teenager James Caan decided upon two things: first, to leave his neighborhood as soon as possible and, second, to look for an alternative to the family business. They ran a butcher shop.

He met Coppola at Hofstra University

At the 50th-anniversary reunion of 'The Godfather', the actor recalled that he played football at Hofstra University and did not consider a career as an actor. But then he met Francis Ford Coppola in college.

Paramount didn't want him as Sonny...

The director would be key in his launch to success, as he was the one who insisted that James Caan be Sonny Corleone. Paramount Studios had someone else in mind: Carmine Caridi.

They wanted him as Michael

In fact, Paramount wanted James Caan to play Michael Corleone, a role that Coppola insisted to go to Al Pacino. In the end, they got what they wanted. Except for Carmine Caridi, of course.

Coppola prevailed

The reason for Coppola's insistence with James Caan was that the two had already worked together in 'The Rain People' (1969). He knew Sonny Corleone was a role made for Caan. And he was right.

Rejected amazing projects

James Caan would become an A-list actor of the 70s. He gave his best performances in that decade. However, he also rejected some legendary projects, perhaps blinded by the fame of 'The Godfather'.

He could have been Superman

From 'Superman' to 'Apocalypse Now,' 'Star Wars', and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', he turned them all down.

And despite everything...

Despite missing out on legendary projects, anyone would admire James Caan's filmography. It includes a few gems that are worth revisiting these days.

'El Dorado' (1966)

He was 26 years old and shared the poster with John Wayne in a masterpiece directed by Howard Hawks.

'Funny Lady' (1975)

He gave life to Billy Rose, the second husband of the comic Fanny Brice. He had wonderful chemistry with his co-star Barbra Streisand.

'Rollerball' (1975)

This film predicted a dystopian future (in 2018) in which there were no wars and the mass entertainment of humanity was Rollerball. Jonathan E (Caan) was the real star in that sport.

'Comes a Horseman' (1978)

James Caan's cowboy mannerisms were undeniable and Alan J. Pakula brought out the best in the actor, pairing him with Jane Fonda and Jason Robards.

'Thief' (1981)

An exemplary thief wants to make the last hit before retiring, but everything gets complicated. A forgotten movie of the 80s and the first film by a director who was unknown at that time: Michael Mann.

'Misery' (1990)

One of the best horror movies in history. Kathy Bates bullies James Caan in her role as an affectionate fan of the star he plays, and she keeps him locked into her house after he enters it.

'Dogville' (2003)

Lars Von Trier found a role to suit him, like Coppola with Sonny, after many years of drifting. To Nicole Kidman's dismay, he appeared at the end of the film.

'Las Vegas' (2003-2008)

Special mention to the series 'Las Vegas,' broadcast by NBC, where Caan played Ed Deline, a former CIA agent in charge of operations and security at the Montecito Casino. He played the part for four seasons.

Four wives and five children

On a personal level, James Caan was married four times and had five children. The most recognized is Scott Caan (second from the right in the photo), as he is also an actor and part of the 'Ocean's Eleven' cast.

James 'Sensei' Caan

Something a lot of people won't know about Caan: The actor was also a master of Karate Tak Kubota, a martial art that he practiced for more than 30 years. In fact, he even trained the Culver City Police Department in this martial art.

He supported Trump in 2016

James Caan was one of the Hollywood minorities who promoted Donald Trump in 2016.

His Twitter is Hollywood history

After his departure, James Caan leaves behind a spectacular audiovisual legacy and a beautiful review of it on his Twitter account. His feed is a must-see for those who want to know more about the actor.

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