Acclaimed actor James Caan, who passed away on July 6, was known for his roles in The Godfather, Misery and Elf.
The legendary American actor was 82. His death was announced by his family via Caan’s Twitter. The tweet ends with “End of tweet,” a tribute to a phrase Caan often used in his films.
People, both celebrities and fans, have flooded to social media to post tributes to the actor. Adam Sandler, who starred with Caan in That’s My Boy in 2012, tweeted “Never ever stopped laughing when I was around that man.”
“Was lucky enough, after a lifetime of loving his work, to get to work with him and I loved him as a person even more. Funny, warm, self-deprecating, and effortlessly talented. They say never meet your heroes, but he proved that to be very very wrong” said Andy Richter, who appeared with Caan in 2003’s Christmas classic Elf.
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.
End of tweet
— James Caan (@James_Caan) July 7, 2022
Kathy Bates, who starred with Caan in Misery, also tweeted of her shock to hear about his passing. “I’m heartbroken to hear of Jimmy’s passing. Shocked. No words. Thank you, Jimmy. Love you, your ‘Kat’”
Fans spoke of their favourite Caan films and what’s remarkable about this is the sheer variety. Caan was Oscar-nominated for his role as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, but fans are also raising Michael Mann’s Thief and the animated comedy Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs as their favourite Caan performances.
This speaks of the variety and range the actor had, he could easily portray a tough-as-nails mafia guy as he could a technophobic fisherman with a soft side. Caan’s career is a smorgasbord of excellence, only defined by the quality of his acting and his unwavering commitment regardless of the size and budget of the project he appeared in.
It feels like everyone has a Caan story. One journalist spoke of the time Caan purposely made his two young boys laugh loudly in the next room as he was conducting an on-camera junket interview. A former video rental store employee remembers Caan as a customer, including a time when he brought one of his own films to the counter.
Born on March 26, 1940 in The Bronx, New York, two Jewish immigrants from Germany, Caan fell in love with acting while at Hofstra University. That’s also when he met Francis Ford Coppola who would go on to offer Caan the part of Sonny Corleone, the eldest son of Vito Corleone. Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his most memorable and career-defining role.
Speaking to Deadline following Caan’s death, Coppola spoke of the actor warmly. “Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I’ve ever known,” Coppola reminisced. “From those earlier times working together on The Rain People, and throughout all the milestones of my life, his films and the many great roles he played will never be forgotten. He will always be my old friend from Sunnyside, my collaborator and one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.”
Caan struggled with addiction and burnout in the 80s, but recovered and had a renaissance of his own in the 90s, appearing in classic films such as Misery (1990) and Dick Tracy (1990) and Mickey Blue Eyes (1999). According to IMDB, Caan had projects on the go at the time of his death, with Phillip Noyce’s Fast Charlie in post-production currently, with a potential release date in 2023.