‘Godfather’, ‘Rollerball’, ‘Misery’ Star was 82 – The Hollywood Reporter

james Caanthe confident star who played Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and a rough athlete in Roller but was sure to show a sensitive side during his long career, has died. He was 82 years old.

Caan died Wednesday night in Los Angeles, his rep Arnold Robinson said The Hollywood Reporter, confirm a post on the actor’s Twitter account. Neither he nor the family would reveal the cause of death.

Caan best remembered for his explosive performance as Sonny in Francis Ford by Coppola The Godfather (1972). Bewitching as the unstable and conflicted eldest son and heir to his family’s criminal empire, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Caan almost couldn’t play the part that would become his signature role. Paramount originally cast him as younger brother Michael and Carmine Caridi like Sony. But Coppolawho had led Caan in rain people (1969), insisted that only he could do the character justice.

Once the studio agreed, the Bronx-born actor jumped at the opportunity. “What f—ing transformation? Obviously, I grew up in the neighborhood. I didn’t have to work on an accent or anything,” he said. Told vanity lounge in a 2009 interview.

Caan admitted that the tone of one particular scene where Sonny confronted the family about his decision to get into the drug business caused him problems. The solution came to him out of the blue. “I was shaving for dinner or something, and for some reason I started thinking about Don Rickles,” he said. “I knew Rickles. Someone was watching over me and gave me this thing: to be Rickleskind of say anything, do anything.

Riffing off this insultingly-comical new character, Caan improvised a line during the scene that solidified the pissed off gangster persona. “What do you think it is, the army, where you shoot them from a mile away?” Sonny shouted at his brother Michael (Al Pacino). “You must come closer, like this — and bada bing! You blow their brains out on your fancy Ivy League suit. (He appeared in a flashback scene in Part Two.)

Another performance that proved to be among his most popular came in by Brian Songan ABC from 1971 movie of the week. Caan portrays Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly after turning pro.

The story centered on the friendship between Piccolo and his teammate, future Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams). Despite vastly different temperaments and racial backgrounds, the couple formed a deep bond and became the first interracial roommates in NFL history.

Fueled by the candid portrayals of the stars, Brian’s Song allowed the tough guys to shed a tear over a football movie. Many critics consider it one of the best TV movies ever made, and both leads earned Emmy nominations.

Caan has shown great versatility over his six-decade career. He was the angsty main character in John’s 1970 adaptation. Updike’s bunny race; a solitary and amorous sailor in Cinderella Freedom (1973); a self-destructive college professor whose betting addiction was ruining his life by The player (1974); the aging star athlete of the ultra-violent and futuristic sports game Roller (1975); and a silken thief in Thief (nineteen eighty one).

A thing Caan never lacked confidence. At the height of its popularity in the 1970she apparently could have gotten just about any role he wanted, but he surprised Hollywood by turning down some big roles, including leading roles in The French connection, Flight over a cuckoo’s nest and Kramer versus Kramer. (Each brought an Oscar to their respective star.)

He also said no to playing Hans Solo in star warsCaptain Willard in Revelation now and a part in Superman.

“If there’s one thing I could attribute my success to, it’s that I said ‘no,'” he said. Told Roger Ebert in 1988. “You would go to an audition and they were always very cordial and nice and, ‘How are you, sir?’ And if I didn’t like the job, I turned it down. And then when you went out, they were like, ‘Who does this thug think he is? He’ll work for me! I’ll show him! He can’t say no to me.’ !”

Determined not to play the same role again and again, Caan bravely faced challenges that went against the type. He portrayed song and dance man Billy Rose opposite Barbra Streisand in funny lady (1975), assaulted him with Mel Brooks in Silent movie (1976), in duet with Betty Midler like a 1940s USO artist in For the boys (1991), clowning with Nicolas Cage for the affections of Sarah Jessica Parker in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) and served as a straight man to Will Ferrell in Elf (2003).

And as a tormented writer held captive by a crazed fan, he was the anchor that gave Kathy Bates the freedom to go mad in her Oscar-winning performance in Misery (1990).

Other Memorables Caan movies include TR Baskin (1971), Slide (1973), Freebie and the bean (1974), chapter two (1979), flesh and bone (1993), bottle rocket (1996), Gum (1996), The way of the gun (2000), Dogville (2003), middle men (2009) and He’s my boy (2012).

On the television, Caan spent four seasons as casino owner Ed Delimit on the NBC drama Vegasone season as Miami mob boss on by Starz magic town and a year as a drunken ex-baseball star on the ABC sitcom Back in the game.

Caan also voiced the character of Tim Lockwood in the animated hit Cloudy with a chance of meatballs (2009) and its 2013 sequel.

From left to right: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan and John Cazale in “The Godfather” in 1972
Courtesy of Everett Collection

james edmond Caan was born on March 26, 1940. The son of Jewish immigrants from Germany – his family was in the “meat business” – he grew up in Sunnyside, Queens and enrolled in Michigan State before d to be transferred to Hofstra University. He didn’t graduate, but his time at Long Island University fueled his interest in acting. There, he also befriended Coppolaa classmate.

In pursuit of a career, Caan applied to the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan and studied there for five years. Among his instructors was Sanford Meisner.

Caan began taking breaks in 1961 and appeared in an off-Broadway production of mandingo. That same year, he made his television debut in an episode of the gritty naked cityand roles in Game of the week, Road 66, First Alcoa and The Incorruptibles followed.

Caan’s his film debut came as an army soldier in the Jack Lemon/Shirley MacLaine the comedy Irma La Gentle (1963). He was not credited. Its rugged beauty has led to featured pieces in lady in a cage (1964), Red Line 7000 (1965), Countdown (1967) and Games (1967).

His role in The Glory Guys (1965) earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. He also made a strong impression with John Wayne and Robert Michum as a revenge-seeking Mississippi in Howard Hawks’ penultimate film, Eldorado (1967).

During the ‘60s, Caan appeared frequently on the small screen, with guest spots on dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Death Valley Days, Fight!, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The FBI and, like Rotten Rupert of Rathskeller, get smart.

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James Caan in the 2016 film “The Good Neighbor”
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Caan took his only chance to achieve with Hide in plain sight (1980). He also starred in the drama, based on the true story of a man who discovers his children and ex-wife have gone into hiding with her boyfriend when he is placed in the witness protection program.

Struggling with the loss of her sister to leukemia, a distaste for Hollywood and a growing addiction to cocaine, Caan gave up acting and was absent from the big screen from 1983 to 1986.

“I had enough money, I thought, and I was coaching kids full time. Soccer, Little League, soccer, basketball,” Caan says Ebert. “Working with kids, I didn’t have to wait six months for them to cut it, edit it and put music on it. As a coach, right before my eyes, this creative thing was happening. I enjoyed it and I told myself that if a film really fascinated me, I would do it. And then, quite honestly, I woke up one morning and found that I had lost all my money, and I was arrested, just like that – overnight.

Caan’s longtime friend Coppola brought him back, convincing him to play in the US Army Sergeant. Clell Hazard in Vietnam War drama stone gardens (1987). Production suffered when by Coppola son Gian Carlo died in a boating accident, but it paved the way for Caan’s come back.

He quickly achieved success with roles in alien nation (1988), Dick Tracy (1990) and Misery. Caan remained busy for the next three decades, alternating between film and television.

Like his career Caan’s personal life was a bit of a roller coaster ride. He has been married four times.

He married Dee Jay Mathis in 1961, and they had a daughter, Tara, before divorcing in 1966. His second marriage, to Sheila Marie Ryan, in 1976 only lasted a year but produced their son Scott Caan , who followed his father as an actor. star in the rebooted hawaii-five-0. (He and his father appeared together in a 2012 episode).

From 1990 to 1994, Caan was married to Ingrid hajek, and they had a son, Alexander. The actor then married Linda Stokes in October 1995, and they had two boys, James and Arthur.

Marriage #4 was the toughest of them all. Caan filed for divorce in 2005, then again in 2009 and 2015. The last time he claimed that his ex-wife was spending all his money and forcing him to appear in films such as sicilian vampire (2016) just to make ends meet.

More recently, he’s handled respected turns in a series of little-seen films, including JL Ranch (2016) and a sequel; the good neighbor (2016); Holy Lands (2017); grandpa undercover (2017); and out of the blue (2018).

He also has credits in films that have yet to be released, including Phillip Noyce’s. Quick Charlie, Redemption and Acre beyond the ryeaccording to IMDb.

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