The Bronx-born actor who performed in The Godfather, Elf, Brian’s Song, El Dorado, and Misery among other films has died at age 82.
“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,” read a statement on his twitter account. The exact cause of death has yet to be released.
For his first leading role, Caan played Santino “Sonny” Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic Godfather saga. He recalled the landmark Francis Ford Coppola film for its 50th birthday earlier this year, remarking that it “transcends all generations.”
“One of the things that made ‘The Godfather’ successful, besides brilliant directing and writing and wonderful actors … was that everyone really enjoyed making it, and that comes off on the screen,” Caan Stated in 2002 “And I think the audience can tell that we were having a good time doing what we were doing up there.”
While Caan was being interviewed on the show, Brando was asked whether there were any similarities between their films. “Brando is great,” said Caan of his co-star, before adding: “He had a very good sense of humor.”
“Marlon was great,” he said of Brando. “He had a great sense of humor, but he would have trouble figuring out the f—ing punch line sometimes. We’d go to lunch — those stupid Polish jokes were coming out at the time … and then two hours later, in the middle of a scene, I’d look at him and say something and all the sudden [imitates Brando laughing] I’d say, ‘What the f–k’s the matter with you?’ and he said [referring to the joke] ‘That’s funny.’ Two hours later it was playing in his f—ing head. He was like a child like that. I loved him.”
In the same interview with The Post, which took place just months before the film’s release and was timed to the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather,” Caan described several sequences — one significant improvised scene in which Sonny beats up his pregnant sister’s husband, Carlo (Gianni Russo) on the street using his fists, legs, and
According to Caan, his character Sonny’s big, bloody death scene was a particularly hazardous sequence to shoot.
“I would never have shot that scene under any other conditions — but there were girls on the set, and I couldn’t look like a p—y,” Caan said. “That’s the only reason I did it. There were 147 squibs on my body … Those squibs were made like brass caskets, a square inch of brass with a little V on top where they pour gundpowder and they were sewn into my jacket. The effects guy, AD Flowers, said, “I don’t know if I ever put this many squibs on anybody, ever.”
When asked about the film as a whole, he said that it is genuine — but also stated his goal for Pacino’s role.
“Yeah, I had a number of auditions for different parts,” he told Variety. “I wanted to play Sonny, because that’s what Francis wanted. But he called me one night from New York and said, “Jimmy the studio wants you to come here and test.” I said, “test what? You got a Porsche you want me to drive around the block?” And Francis told me they wanted me to play Michael. So I went to New York and read for the role and then they had Al [Pacino] come in and test and he was a little self-destructive. They warned him, don’t do that again or you’re fired. But Francis got what he wanted in the end. He always does.”
It was also revealed that working with the film’s cast was as thrilling as watching the movie, which is adored by fans decades later.
“There’s something that doesn’t get dated and that’s the truth,” he stated. “‘The Godfather’ has a lot of truth to it, a lot of sincerity to it and a lot of art. The cast was great and we all had a lot of fun making it. Having fun and liking the people you’re working with is a very important ingredient, which I found out after 130 movies or whatever.”
The actor said that the scene in which Sonny is violently taken out was performed in one take.
“F–k yeah,” he said. “Once was enough.”
“It was very scary. I had 147 squibs on me and there were 5,000 in the tollbooth and the truth is that I only did it because there were girls on the set. I remember [special effects head] A.D. Flowers putting these wires on me, and as he’s putting them on me he’s mumbling to himself about how he never put this many squibs on somebody in his life. I told him, ‘shut the f–k up A.D., will ya for god’s sake?’ Thankfully we only did it once.”