James Caan Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (73)  | Personal Quotes (28)  | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Born in The Bronx, New York, USA
Birth NameJames Edmund Caan
Nickname Jimmy
Height 5' 11½" (1.81 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A masculine and enigmatic actor whose life and movie career have had more ups and downs than the average rollercoaster and whose selection of roles has arguably derailed him from achieving true superstar status, James Caan is New York-born and bred.

He was born in the Bronx, to Sophie (Falkenstein) and Arthur Caan, Jewish immigrants from Germany. His father was a meat dealer and butcher. The athletically gifted Caan played football at Michigan State University while studying economics, holds a black belt in karate and for several years was even a regular on the rodeo circuit, where he was nicknamed "The Jewish Cowboy". However, while studying at Hofstra University, he became intrigued by acting and was interviewed and accepted at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. He then won a scholarship to study under acting coach Wynn Handman and began to appear in several off-Broadway productions, including "I Roam" and "Mandingo".

He made his screen debut as a sailor in Irma la Douce (1963) and began to impress audiences with his work in Red Line 7000 (1965) and the western El Dorado (1967) alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. Further work followed in Journey to Shiloh (1968) and in the sensitive The Rain People (1969). However, audiences were moved to tears as he put in a heart-rending performance as cancer-stricken Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo in the highly rated made-for-TV film Brian's Song (1971).

With these strong performances under his belt, Francis Ford Coppola then cast him as hot-tempered gangster Santino "Sonny" Corleone in the Mafia epic The Godfather (1972). The film was an enormous success, Caan scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination and, in the years since, the role has proven to be the one most fondly remembered by his legion of fans. He reprised the role for several flashback scenes in the sequel The Godfather: Part II (1974) and then moved on to several very diverse projects. These included a cop-buddy crime partnership with Alan Arkin in the uneven Freebie and the Bean (1974), a superb performance as a man playing for his life in The Gambler (1974) alongside Lauren Hutton, and pairing with Barbra Streisand in Funny Lady (1975). Two further strong lead roles came up for him in 1975, first as futuristic sports star "Jonathon E" questioning the moral fiber of a sterile society in Rollerball (1975) and teaming up with Robert Duvall in the Sam Peckinpah spy thriller The Killer Elite (1975).

Unfortunately, Caan's rising star sputtered badly at this stage of his career, and several film projects failed to find fire with either critics or audiences. These included such failures as the hokey Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976), the quasi-western Comes a Horseman (1978) and the saccharine Chapter Two (1979). However, he did score again with the stylish Michael Mann-directed heist movie Thief (1981). He followed this with a supernatural romantic comedy titled Kiss Me Goodbye (1982) and then, due to personal conflicts, dropped out of the spotlight for several years before returning with a stellar performance under old friend Francis Ford Coppola in the moving Gardens of Stone (1987).

Caan appeared back in favor with fans and critics alike and raised his visibility with the sci-fi hit Alien Nation (1988) and Dick Tracy (1990), then surprised everyone by playing a meek romance novelist held captive after a car accident by a deranged fan in the dynamic Misery (1990). The 1990s were kind to him and he notched up roles as a band leader in For the Boys (1991), another gangster in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), appeared in the indie hit Bottle Rocket (1996) and pursued Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser (1996).

The demand on Caan's talents seems to have increased steadily over the past few years as he is making himself known to a new generation of fans. Recent hot onscreen roles have included The Yards (2000), City of Ghosts (2002) and Dogville (2003). In addition, he finds himself at the helm of the hit TV series Las Vegas (2003) as casino security chief "Big Ed" Deline. An actor of undeniably manly appeal, James Caan continues to surprise and delight audiences with his invigorating performances.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Spouse (4)

Linda Stokes (7 October 1995 - present) ( filed for divorce) ( 2 children)
Ingrid Hajek (9 September 1990 - 29 March 1995) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Sheila Ryan (12 January 1976 - 7 December 1976) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Dee Jay Mattis (8 July 1961 - 1966) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Bronx accent

Trivia (73)

Played football for Michigan State University.
Born at 10:31pm-EST.
Father (with Sheila Ryan) of actor Scott Caan.
He walked off the set of The Holcroft Covenant (1985) and was replaced by Michael Caine. Both were in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
In the 1990s he kicked a cocaine habit of some 20 years.
States that Thief (1981) is one of his favorite films.
Son of Arthur and Sophie Caan. His father was a kosher butcher.
Turned down the role of Trapper John in MASH (1970) in order to appear in Rabbit, Run (1970).
Briefly lived at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s.
One brother, Ronnie Caan, and one sister, Barbara (deceased c. 1981--leukemia).
Was originally tested for the role of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather (1972) (director Francis Ford Coppola had worked with him and Robert Duvall in The Rain People (1969) and wanted them in the movie), but then was slated to play Michael Corleone after Paramount's initial choices (which included Warren Beatty, Robert Redford and Ryan O'Neal) did not pan out. When Al Pacino came on board, Caan was switched back to Sonny.
Spent nine years on the pro rodeo circuit.
Is a 6th Dan in Karate.
Was a drama major at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Nassau County, Long Island, New York, USA.
Sons with Linda Stokes: James Arthur Caan (b. 6 November 1995) and Jacob Nicholas Caan (b. September 24th 1998).
After being turned down by Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino, Julia Phillips inquired of Caan's agent if he would be interested in taking the lead role of Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Caan's agent responded that he would read the script for a guarantee of $1 million plus 10% of the gross if he accepted the role. Phillips went with the original choice, Richard Dreyfuss.
He was considered for Harrison Ford's roles in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Blade (1998).
Two generations of his family and the Coppola family have worked together. He worked with Francis Ford Coppola most memorably in the first two Godfather films (The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974)) and in Gardens of Stone (1987). His son, Scott Caan, appeared in Sonny (2002), which was directed by Nicolas Cage and featured Cage and his brother, Marc Coppola. Sonny was also the name of Caan's "Godfather" character.
Appears in Misery (1990), which was directed by Rob Reiner. His son, Scott Caan, appeared in Ocean's Eleven (2001) and Ocean's Twelve (2004), opposite Reiner's father, Carl Reiner.
In the Godfather trilogy, Andy Garcia plays the son of Caan's character, Sonny Corleone. In Ocean's Eleven (2001) and Ocean's Twelve (2004), Caan's son, Scott Caan, works with Garcia.
Grew up in Sunnyside (neighborhood), Queens, New York City, New York, USA.
In his youth, his nicknames were "Shoulders" and "Killer Caan".
While on sabbatical from acting he coached a Little League baseball team. There was an incident where his team's weakest player hit a home run that won a game. Caan said that this was one of the greatest moments of his life.
His film contracts during his rodeo days had provisions that he would not compete in rodeos while filming. This was for fear that he might be injured or killed in an accident.
According to the British documentary The Godfather and the Mob (2006), Caan was regularly seen with Gambino family underboss Carmine Persico (aka "Junior") during the filming of The Godfather (1972). As Persico was under surveillance by the FBI at the time, Caan came under almost equal scrutiny.
Has a son named Alexander James Caan (b. April 10th 1991) with Ingrid Hajek.
Studied at Rhodes High School in New York City, New York, a school which no longer exists as of 2017.
Studied at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater, a professional conservatory for actors, and the home of the Meisner technique (developed and taught by Sanford Meisner, who was at one time part of the faculty there), in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA.
Studied Economics at Michigan State University.
Tested for the role of Ted Henderson in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969).
During the making of Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), he nicknamed Hugh Grant "Whippy" after the Whippet, an English breed of dog that shivers a lot.
Lives in Beverly Hills, California, USA.
His parents, Sophie (Falkenstein) and Arthur Caan, were both German Jews.
Has a daughter, Tara A. Caan (born November 5, 1964), with first wife Dee Jay Mattis.
Avid golfer.
Frequent guest/player at celebrity golf events.
Turned down Jack Nicholson's role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Not one to repeat that mistake, he accepted the lead role in Misery (1990) when Nicholson turned it down. Both films involved the lead character being at the mercy of a sadistic nurse.
He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Although he played John Cazale's elder brother in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), he is five years his junior in real life.
He was considered for the role of Tom Hagen in The Godfather (1972) before Robert Duvall was cast. He eventually played Sonny Corleone in both that film and The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Although he played Morgana King's son in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), he is only ten years her junior in real life.
Two of his memorable scenes from The Godfather (1972) have been parodied on The Simpsons (1989). The scene where Sonny beats up Carlo in the street was turned into a scene where Marge does the same to a man who mugged her. Sonny's death scene has actually been parodied twice. The first time involved Bart being ambushed with snowballs at school. The second actually involved Caan himself making a guest appearance, and being ambushed at a tollbooth again.
He has appeared in four films directed by Francis Ford Coppola: The Rain People (1969), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Gardens of Stone (1987).
In 1977, Caan rated several of his movies out of ten - The Godfather (1972) (10), Freebie and the Bean (1974) (4), Cinderella Liberty (1973) (8), The Gambler (1974) (8), Funny Lady (1975) (9), Rollerball (1975) (8), The Killer Elite (1975) (5), Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) (0), Slither (1973) (4), A Bridge Too Far (1977) (7), and Another Man, Another Chance (1977) (10). He also liked his performances in The Rain People (1969) and Thief (1981).
He was so unhappy with Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) that he fired his management.
In 1994 he was arrested after being accused by a Los Angeles rap artist of pulling a gun on him.
He is a practicing martial artist. He has trained with Takayuki Kubota for nearly thirty years, earning various ranks. He is a Master (Rank = 6 Dan) of Gosoku Ryu Karate and was granted the title of Soke Dai by the International Karate Association.
He agreed to appear in A Bridge Too Far (1977) because of the scene in which he forces a reluctant Army surgeon to operate on one of his buddies at gunpoint. He said, "When Richard Attenborough came to see me in Los Angeles, he offered me the choice of several roles. I chose the Sergeant, chiefly for that one scene.".
In a 1991 interview, Caan claimed that making Kiss Me Goodbye (1982) was a factor in his self-imposed exile. Caan called it one of the worst experiences of his life and professed that director Robert Mulligan was the most incompetent filmmaker he had ever worked with.
From 1982 to 1987, Caan suffered from depression over his sister's death from leukemia, a growing problem with cocaine, and what he described as "Hollywood burnout," and did not act in any films.
He survived a car crash in 1985.
He has five children and four grandchildren, three from his eldest daughter Tara and one from his son Scott.
In 1993, a 25-year-old West Hollywood man apparently lost his footing and tumbled to his death outside a Westwood apartment where Caan was staying. Caan said in an interview that he slept through the incident.
According to a Fortune Magazine profile of Barry Minkow, during the production of the biopic based on the investor's life, Caan socialized with Minkow and was made aware by him that the financing of the film involved illegally obtained funds. However, nothing suggests Caan had any involvement with any illegalities.
He was offered the role of Col. Lucas in Apocalypse Now (1979), but he demanded too much money for such a small part, and Harrison Ford was cast instead.
He was originally cast in the main villain role of Scorpio in Dirty Harry (1971), however the part later went to Andrew Robinson.
He was considered for Charlton Heston's role in Earthquake (1974).
He was considered for the lead role in Arthur (1981).
He turned down the role of "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1971). Gene Hackman subsequently won an Oscar for the part.
He was considered for the lead role in Rocky (1976).
He turned down the role of the Deacon in Waterworld (1995).
He was the original choice to play Lone Starr in Spaceballs (1987). Unfortunately, he was struggling with addiction issues at the time. A then unknown Bill Pullman won the role, as Caan was deemed too expensive to insure.
He was considered for the role of Louis Strack Jr. in Darkman (1990).
He was considered for Richard Dreyfuss' roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Goodbye Girl (1977), and What About Bob? (1991).
He turned down the role of Oliver Barrett in Love Story (1970).
He was considered to voice Scar in The Lion King (1994).
He turned down the lead role in Superman (1978), because he balked at wearing such a costume.
He turned down the role of Ted Kramer in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Dustin Hoffman subsequently won an Oscar for the role.
He was considered for Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop (1984).
He was considered for Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976).
He was considered for the role of Jack Travis in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992).
He was considered for Bellocq in Pretty Baby (1978).

Personal Quotes (28)

[on being voted "Italian of the Year" in New York twice, after his role as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather (1972)]: I'm a Jew from the Bronx. I feel guilty about accepting these awards, but they wouldn't let me turn them down.
I have an agent I trust professionally more than anybody else, but with the best intentions he could put me in the shithouse just as fast as somebody who wanted to ruin me.
I'd rather get sloshed than stoned.
Anyone of my generation who tells you he hasn't "done" Brando [Marlon Brando] is lying.
My acting technique is to look up at God just before the camera rolls and say, 'Give me a break.'
I never did anything else. In college I switched majors every two weeks and acting was the only thing that held my interest. The reason I started was to stay away from the meat market. That's where I was headed -- to be with the guys who lug beef all day long.
Quite often I'm misunderstood when I say, 'It's not my life, it's my job.' People think that means I don't give a shit. Sure, I want to be the best actor in the world. But my life is my family, my son, my friends. I don't know how anyone can find fault with that. For some reason when you say, 'It's my job' it sounds like 'Who gives a shit?' Well, that's not it at all. What I do quite honestly and seriously and not in any way being humble is not as important as what the garbage collector does. People make actors important. I go to the movies, I stand on line minding my own business and the manager goes, 'Mr. Caan, Mr. Caan.' And I say, 'No, no, no, I'm OK. I'll stand on the line.' 'Oh, you can't.' So, finally they take you through the line and the other 40 people go, 'Hey, Mr. Bigshot.' And I was just minding my own business, I just wanted to stand there. But other people make it very important that I'm an actor.
I loved Funny Lady (1975) for whatever reason. People say they didn't know I could sing and dance. Well, nobody ever asks me - it's always "Punch this guy".
[on recent big-budget Hollywood films] [They] absolutely stink. All those pictures, those big extravaganzas - you can't remember any characters. Either they had an animal head on them or walked funny . . . If they want me to work, I'll go, "Sure". Basically, I'm a whore.
[on Zabriskie Point (1970)] It was the worst fucking - and I have to curse because there is no other way that I can express myself - picture that I ever saw. I got so angry about it. I was in love with a girl. We went to the movie and it ended the whole affair. He [Michelangelo Antonioni] hired cardboard, the worst actors, and it was a conscious effort - that's what pissed me off.
[on actors taking themselves too seriously] The truth is . . . myself, De Niro [Robert De Niro], Pacino [Al Pacino], Hoffman [Dustin Hoffman], we were arrogant, pompous asses.
If it was up to them, I'd be playing Sonny Corleone my entire life. Usually, if there weren't eight people dead by page 11, they wouldn't send me the script. People say, "Gee, you do a lot of mafia movies". I think I've done two, out of 60.
[about living at the Playboy mansion] Actually, it was for medicinal purposes - I was just getting divorced. This doctor wrote me a prescription to live there because he thought it would help me get over the pain of my divorce. My God, it worked. I got over it pretty quickly.
I'll see a beautiful girl walking up to me and I'll think, "Oh, my God, I can't believe my good luck". But then she'll say, "Where's your son?" or "My mother loves you."
I had great, great times as a Little League coach. People were talking about me quitting acting, and they would say, "What about your creative juices?" Coaching is creative, because you could take a kid who thought he wasn't any good and, within four minutes, change his mind. And I didn't have to wait six months for them to put music to it. How good a Little League coach was I? I was a little hyper. One thing I learned was that talent comes from everywhere; it doesn't have to come just from the ghetto. But in Beverly Hills, because Daddy has a grocery store, the kids lack a lot of try.
There's a big difference between wanting to work and having to work. And I had to learn that the hard way. Now money is very important to me, because I ain't got it.
[on being confused with his character from The Godfather (1972)] I'll bump into a guy in a bar, and he'll say, "I'm sorry, Sonny!" It's surreal.
A "Godfather Four"? Not by Francis [Francis Ford Coppola], anyway. Who cares? There shouldn't have been a The Godfather: Part III (1990).
You know those actors who say, "I want to be alone" or they're walking around with their friggin' bodyguards? A bodyguard! I'd never have a bodyguard. I mean, who wants to hurt me? But the point is that they have the bodyguard so that they can say, "Leave me alone!" It's this revolving door thing. If somebody didn't recognize them, they'd have a heart attack, the bastards.
[on fans confusing him with his characters] Look, you only pray when you start in this business that you get to the point where people recognize you or quote you. I mean, I've got a lot of people who are like, "Hey, your ankle OK?" from Misery (1990). I get that a lot. It's harmless. Or they'll say, "Hey, don't go through that toll booth again" or "Have the right change". That's great! First of all, it means that they remember the picture. There's nothing not to like about it . . . No, I hope they never stop.
I did this picture last year with Nicole Kidman and Lars von Trier, Dogville (2003), and it's supposed to be a trilogy, but now that she's walked away from it, I'm walking from it. He is very anti-American, so screw him. I'm very pro-America. I'm a conservative, basically.
I went through some bad times, some very self-destructive stuff, you know, when I was on top. I'd got involved in partying and doing all that and I lost my sister and, basically, I got all screwed up in my head. She was like my best friend and I lost her to leukemia and I was just a mess. I had a lot of money because I'd worked a lot and saved it. I had it in a pension plan and then I lost all my money. My accountant. I just woke up one morning and I didn't have a dime. We're talking about tons . . . I mean, a lot of money, and I was flat broke.
[His advice to younger actors] The main pearl of wisdom I give these young kids is that you shouldn't make your career your whole life. No matter what heights you achieve, even if you're Brad Pitt, the slide is coming, sure as death and taxes. So if you put everything into that one basket - acting - you'll wind up hurting yourself, either with drugs or any other self-destructive thing you can think of.
[on figuring out how to play Sonny Corleone] I didn't have to work on an accent or anything, but I couldn't quite get a grasp. I was shaving to go to dinner or something, and for some reason I started thinking of Don Rickles. Because I knew Rickles. Somebody was watching over me and gave me this thing: being Rickles, kind of say-anything, do-anything.
I won't mention names, but in my career, the most talented people invariably are the easiest and nicest to get along with. The ones that are difficult try to camouflage the fact that they haven't got shit to offer. So they complain about frilly things that really don't mean a shit, like their dressing rooms, makeup.
(On turning down One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)) Four or five different directors came to me with that at different times. I go, 'It's not a movie. Who wants to look at four institution walls?' Milos Forman made it great. Jack was great in it. I made a flat-out, fucking mistake.
(On turning down Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)) I was first, Dustin [Hoffman] was last on the list of five guys they wanted. The director [Robert Benton] kept it up with me for three months. I said, 'This is middle-class, bourgeois horseshit.' I mean, 'Cut to kid crying.' Oh, please. Fuck you!
[when asked about Alien Nation (1988) during an interview with the AV Club] Why the fuck...Why would you bring up that?...Yeah, well, I don't know. I don't have too many...I mean, I loved Mandy Patinkin. Mandy was a riot. But...I don't know. It was a lot of silly stuff, creatively. And we had this English director [Graham Baker] who I wasn't really that fond of. I mean, nice guy, but...it was just one of those things where, you know, you don't quit, you get through it. It certainly wasn't one of...I wouldn't write it down as one of my favorite movies. But it was pretty popular.

Salary (3)

The Godfather (1972) $35,000
The Godfather: Part II (1974) $35,000
Back in the Game (2013) $75,000 per episode (2013)

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