James Caan dies at 82, one of the protagonists of “The Godfather”

Actor James Caan, who went down in film history by playing Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” saga, passed away on Wednesday night at 82 years oldreported his family on Thursday through his Twitter profile.

“The family appreciates the love and condolences and asks that their privacy continue to be respected at this difficult time,” the statement added.

For his role in the first installment of “The Godfather”, Caan received a nomination for Oscar for best supporting actor. His filmography includes other titles such as “The Rain People” (also under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola), “El Dorado” (with John Wayne), “Brian’s Song”, “Rollerball” and “A Bridge Too Far”.

Eternally linked to 1970s Hollywood, many will remember Caan for the dramatic death of his character, Sonny Corleone, riddled with bullets at a Long Island toll booth by Barzini’s men in one of the most famous scenes from “The Godfather”.

It was this film, in which he shared the screen with Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, that catapulted him to world fame, but curiously he was about to not play that role, since the Paramount studios preferred Carmine Caridi. To his luck, Coppola preferred him to him and ended up imposing himself.

Born in 1940 in the Bronx, New York, James Caan made of his characteristic accent and serious countenance and it lasted a sign of identity that remained in a large part of his characters.
Among his most memorable performances is the 1971 television movie “Brian’s Song,” in which he played athlete Brian Piccolo, diagnosed with cancer at the height of his success. Caan’s performance, understated as well as dramatic, led critics considered the film as one of the best of the year.

That role convinced Coppola to cast him the following year in “The Godfather.” Previously, the filmmaker and actor had worked together on “The Rian People” (1969), but the producers curtailed his on-screen appearance, doubting his suitability for acting.

After convincing the world of his talent for celluloid, works such as “Rollerball” (1975), “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Thief” (1981) arrived, about which he himself came to say that it was acting which he was most proud of.

Among the roles he turned down were such iconic films as “Star Wars” and “Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”