James Caan, star of The Godfather and other classic films, dies at 82
James Caan, the iconic actor who starred in some of the most beloved Hollywood films of the '70s and '80s before becoming an affable Twitter presence later in life, has died. Caan's representatives confirmed the sad news to EW. He was 82.
Caan's passing was first announced on his official Twitter page, where he had in recent years developed a presence as a charming elder statesman who would post remembrances of his greatest films and former costars. His tweets were recognizable for ending with the same phrase every time: "End of tweet." Now, the page has posted that phrase for the last time.
"It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6," the tweet reads. "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."
Born March 26, 1940 in the Bronx and raised in Sunnyside, Queens by Jewish immigrant parents, Caan is perhaps most famous for his performance as hotheaded gangster Sonny Corleone in 1972's The Godfather, for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (Joel Grey won for Cabaret, perhaps because Caan split votes with his costars Al Pacino and Robert Duvall). Marlon Brando's iconic line as Don Corleone, "Look how they massacred my boy" (which you've surely seen online in GIF form even if you've never watched director Francis Ford Coppola's classic film) is in reference to Sonny after he gets ambushed and riddled with bullets by rival gangsters — one of the most famous death scenes in all of Hollywood.
Caan was reportedly set to reunite with Coppola on the director's upcoming passion project Megalopolis. Unfortunately, fans won't get to see their reunion, which would've been Caan and Coppola's fifth film together, including The Rain People and Gardens of Stone in addition to the two Godfather films (though Sonny dies in the first film, he makes a cameo appearance in a flashback scene at the end of the sequel).
Among Caan's many memorable roles was Thief, the 1980 directorial debut of Michael Mann, in which Caan played a master safecracker. The director, who famously values authenticity and realism in his work, made Caan break into a real safe for the role. The actor called it "one of my proudest moments," and even called his mother to tell her.
After Caan's death, Mann said in a statement shared with EW:
Mann isn't the only auteur director whose career Caan helped kickstart by starring in their debut feature. He also lent his presence to Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket, in which he plays another thief (looked at from a certain angle, you could see Mr. Henry as an older, lazier version of Caan's Thief character). Caan was remarkably choosy with his film roles, passing on several '70s hits that became signature performances for other actors (including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Apocalypse Now, among others). But cinema fans still have lots of great performances across multiple genres to remember him by, from The Gambler and Misery to Dick Tracy and Elf.
End of obit.
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