He earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for playing Sonny in Francis Ford Coppola’s 'The Godfather' (1972).
James Caan, the actor perhaps best known for his role as the confrontational Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and a rough-and-tumble athlete in Rollerball has passed away at the age of 82. The cause of death has not been revealed. A tweet from the actor's official account read, "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." His rep Arnold Robinson confirmed the tweet to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Bronx-born actor had a long-standing career of over 60 years with his most notable roles being in The Godfather (1972), Misery (1990) and Elf (2003). Others include Brian's Song (1971), Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Gambler (1974), Rollerball (1975), Dick Tracy (1990), Bottle Rocket (1996) and Eraser (1996). The actor earned an Oscar nomination for the best supporting actor for playing Sonny, Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) oldest and volatile son in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972).
In remembrance of the legendary James Caan. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/jHynv2BcR9— The Godfather (@godfathermovie) July 7, 2022
Speaking of the legacy of the iconic crime epic on its 50th anniversary, he told The Hollywood Reporter in March, "When Michael [Al Pacino] tells me he is going to take care of the cop and Sollozzo [Al Lettieri], I say, 'You'll get brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.' There was a scene before in the same room that I had with Bobby [Duvall] that was like 10 pages long — and Francis [Ford Coppola] cut all of it out!" he added. Despite being mad at the film's director and co-writer for cutting one of his larger scenes, he admitted "Otherwise, he gave me a great honor," Caan said with a laugh.
RIP James Caan. ”The Godfather” is 50 this year. What a cast. pic.twitter.com/jz4V2jrNkp— The '60s at 60 (@the_60s_at_60) July 7, 2022
The actor's Godfather co-stars paid tribute to him after they got the heart-breaking news. Al Pacino said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, "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 loved him, gonna miss him," added Pacino, 82. His other co-star, 78-year-old Robert De Niro said in a statement that he is "very very sad to hear about Jimmy's passing," while Talia Shire who played Connie Corleone said, "James was a good man, a kind man, a family man and a wildly gifted man — whose great talent will always be loved and remembered. My prayers are with his family that he treasured so dearly," added the 76-year-old actress.