James Caan, the Academy Award-nominated star best known for his role as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, has died at the age of 82.
The news was confirmed via a message posted on the actor’s social media. “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.”
The message concludes with “End of tweet” – a nod to the phrase that Caan used to wrap up all his tweets.
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
No cause of death has been provided.
Caan was born in 1940 in the Bronx, New York City. After studying acting at Hofstra University in New York state, he met Francis Ford Coppola, who would go on to provide Caan with his most celebrated role in The Godfather – as well as a cameo in its sequel.
After taking the first major steps in his career with films like El Dorado (1966), Countdown (1967) and Coppola’s The Rain People (1969), Caan took a break from his hard-partying life in Hollwood, a period he once described as a “scary time”.
He later went on to have success in a second chapter of his acting life, with films including Misery (1990), Dick Tracy (1990), and Wes Anderson’s directorial debut, Bottle Rocket (1996). Caan was due to reunite with Coppla on Megalopolis, which was scheduled to begin filming later this year.
Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn was one of the first major Hollywood names to pay tribute to Caan.
“Rest In Peace James Caan,” he wrote on Twitter. “There are so many movies of his I love, The Godfather films of course being at the very top, but here are a few more I adore (Thief in particular was a Gunn family classic – I had the poster on my wall in high school).”
Rest In Peace James Caan. There are so many movies of his I love, The Godfather films of course being at the very top, but here are a few more I adore (Thief in particular was a Gunn family classic – I had the poster on my wall in high school). 🙏❤️ pic.twitter.com/mhrtGMzB0S
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 7, 2022
The Godfather co-star Al Pacino paid tribute in a statement (via Entertainment Weekly), writing: “Jimmy was my fictional brother and my lifelong friend. It’s hard to believe that he won’t be in the world anymore because he was so alive and daring. A great actor, a brilliant director, and my dear friend. I’m gonna miss him.”
Kathy Bates, who co-starred with Caan in Misery, said in a statement: “I can’t believe Jimmy’s gone. Working with him on Misery was one of the most profound experiences of my career. When you watch his performance, his terror, it’s as though he’s watching a snake. Brilliant.
I’m heartbroken to hear of Jimmy’s passing. Shocked. No words. Thank you, Jimmy. Love you, your ‘Kat’ @James_Caan
— Kathy Bates (@MsKathyBates) July 7, 2022
“So many memories are flooding back today. Jimmy saying, ‘Let’s get the most hyper guy in Hollywood and make him stay in bed for 15 weeks!’ We were so excited when we got to shoot in the dining room. He was kind. Hilarious. He would have something insightfully funny to say right now. I’m bereft. Sending all my love to the Caan family.”
In a statement to Deadline, The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola wrote: “Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I’ve ever known. 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.”
Jennifer Tilly, the actress who received an Academy Award nomination for her role in 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway, shared an amusing story passed onto her by Caan.
James Caan always had the funniest stories. Once he told me Coppola had the habit of grabbing food off his plate & eating it, so one day he made a sandwich with very hot jalapeños between two pieces of buttered bread, & waited outside Coppola’s airstream…
— Jennifer Tilly (@JenniferTilly) July 7, 2022
Andy Richter remembered Caan as “funny, warm, self-deprecating, and effortlessly talented,” as well as recalling his time working with the actor.
RIP James Caan. Shocked. 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
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) July 7, 2022
You can check out more tributes below.
James Caan. Loved him very much. Always wanted to be like him. So happy I got to know him. Never ever stopped laughing when I was around that man. His movies were best of the best. We all will miss him terribly. Thinking of his family and sending my love. pic.twitter.com/a0q8rCP1Yl
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) July 7, 2022
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) July 7, 2022
James Caan was an icon – a legend. He inspired everyone who has ever been in front of a camera. I was lucky to work with him and see his talent and his fantastic sense of humor firsthand. He was a great training partner in the gym and a true friend, and I’ll miss him.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) July 7, 2022
What a terrible and tragic loss. Jimmy was not just a great actor with total commitment and a venturesome spirit, but he had a vitality in the core of his being that drove everything from his art and friendship to athletics and very good times. pic.twitter.com/72b06VJGIi
— Michael Mann (@MichaelMann) July 7, 2022
— Antonio Banderas (@antoniobanderas) July 7, 2022