James Caan: Hollywood pays tribute to late Godfather actor

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Caan (right) starred alongside Al Pacino in The GodfatherImage source, Getty Images
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James Caan (right) starred alongside Al Pacino in The Godfather

Hollywood stars and filmmakers including Al Pacino, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert De Niro have paid tribute to the late Godfather actor James Caan, who died on Wednesday aged 82.

Caan played Sonny Corleone in Coppola's classic 1972 gangster movie.

Pacino, who starred as Michael Corleone, described him as a "great actor" and a "dear friend".

Ford Coppola said Caan's work "will never be forgotten".

In a statement provided to the PA news agency, the director said: "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 [1969 film] 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 added: "He will always be my old friend from {New York neighbourhood] Sunnyside, my collaborator and one of the funniest people I've ever known."

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Caan alongside Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and John Cazale in the famous movie

Caan, who born in the Bronx, appeared alongside Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro in the memorable mobster movie.

Speaking of his "fictional brother and lifelong friend", Pacino said: "It's hard to believe that he won't be in the world any more because he was so alive and daring.

"A great actor, a brilliant director and my dear friend," he added. "I'm gonna miss him."

De Niro added he was "very, very sad to hear about Jimmy's passing".

Caan's role as the hot tempered Sonny saw him receive his only Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
His role as the hot tempered Sonny saw him receive his only Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor

He reprised the role for a flashback scene in The Godfather Part II, with the director's son Roman Coppola playing Sonny as a boy in the 1920s scenes.

Talia Shire, who played Caan's on-screen sister Connie Corleone told PA he 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," she added.

Joe Mantegna, who appeared in the third film in the Godfather series, paid his respects over Twitter. "One of the great gifts in being part of The Godfather family was becoming friends with James Caan. Rest In Peace Jimmy," he posted.

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Flowers were laid across US actor James Caan's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in Los Angeles on Thursday

Former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan posted on Instagram that Caan was an "inspiration", after having watched him act at close quarters in their upcoming film Fast Charlie, despite being in "great physical pain and discomfort".

Filmmaker Michael Mann, who directed Caan in the 1981 heist thriller Thief, described his death as 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," he said in a statement.

Fellow filmmaker Rob Reiner, who also directed the late star in the 1990 psychological thriller Misery, said he "loved working with" him.

Star Wars actor Billy Dee Williams, who was Caan's Brian's Song co-star, shared a picture on social media of the two of them together.

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A leading man in Hollywood throughout the 1970s whose career spanned decades; Caan nominated for an Oscar, an Emmy and four Golden Globes.

His family thanked fans on Thursday for an "outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences".

The New Yorker, known for his partying lifestyle, was married four times and had five children.

Among the early tributes to him, fellow actor Gary Sinise wrote on Twitter that it had been "wonderful to know him and call him a pal".

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