James Caan, mythical actor of the "Godfather", died at 82

James Caan, mythical actor of the “Godfather”, died at 82


Born in New York, in the Bronx district, in 1940, into a family of Jewish immigrants from Germany, James Caan had started his career with small roles in Hollywood in the 1960s, notably in “Irma La Douce » by Billy Wilder (1963), or « People in the rain », by Francis Ford Coppola (1969).

Oscar nomination

Three years later, the great American director will give him one of his most famous roles, in the first part of the trilogy “The Godfather”, epic saga on the Italian-American mafia which marked the history of cinema and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

James Caan plays Sonny Corleone, the eldest son of “don” Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), and his brutal assassination in a hail of bullets at a toll booth has become one of the film’s most defining moments. The role earned him an Oscar nomination.

“I still think if I had the change that day, I could have become much richer,” he joked years later, referring to his death at the toll while waiting for his change. “If I had known that they were going to shoot ‘The Godfather 2’ (in which he had a small role for a flashback), I would have refused to die”, he had quipped, judging that this film had was a “blessing” for him.

Coppola salutes his ‘old friend’

“Jimmy was someone who was part of my life longer and more closely than any other cinematic figure I’ve ever known,” reacted Francis Ford Coppola, hailing his “old friend” and “one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.

As an echo of this role in “The Godfather”, James Caan had been summoned for the first time as a witness in 1985 at a mafia trial in New York, because he had known one of the defendants, a member of the Colombo family. , in his childhood. Then, he testified, still in New York, in 1992 in another trial, where he presented himself as the best friend of a reputable member of the Bonanno mafia family still in the dock.

Magistral in “Misery”

After “The Godfather”, his career continued with roles in other films that remained classics, such as “Rollerball” (1975), named after this violent sport practiced in a futuristic society, or “The Solitaire” ( 1981) by Michael Mann.

One of his other major roles was offered to him in “Misery” (1990), a grueling behind closed doors film, adapted from the novel by Stephen King. He masterfully embodies the writer Paul Sheldon, kidnapped in the mountains of Colorado by an evil fan played by Kathy Bates.

“His movies were the best of the best,” New York actor and screenwriter Adam Sandler tweeted. ” I loved him so much. I always wanted to be like him. I am so happy to have known him. I never stopped laughing when I was with this man,” he added.

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