Hollywood legend Al Pacino has led tributes to James Caan, the Oscar-nominated actor known for roles in the The Godfather, Brian’s Song, Misery, and Elf, who has died.
Caan’s death, at the age of 82, has prompted tributes from across the acting world and from fans.
“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,” Pacino, who starred alongside Caan in 1972’s The Godfather, said.
Caan’s family confirmed his death in a statement to his official Twitter account. They said he died on Wednesday night (US time), although no cause of death or location were provided.
“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time,” the statement said.
Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of the hot-tempered Corleone in The Godfather. He reprised the role in flashback scenes in The Godfather: Part II in 1974.
Robert De Niro, another star of the 1974 feature, said he was “very very sad to hear about Jimmy’s passing”.
Other nominations for Caan included four Golden Globes and an Emmy. His career spanned six decades and included a broad range of other roles in movies from psychological thriller Misery to comedy Elf.
Kathy Bates said working on Misery with Caan was “one of the most profound experiences of my career”.
“When you watch his performance, his terror, it’s as though he’s watching a snake. Brilliant. So many memories flooding back today … He was kind. Hilarious. He would have something insightfully funny to say right now. I’m bereft,” she said.
Andy Richter, who appeared alongside Caan in 2003’s Elf, also paid tribute.
“Was lucky enough, after a lifetime of loving his work, to get to work with him and I loved him as a person even more. Funny, warm, self-deprecating, and effortlessly talented. They say never meet your heroes, but he proved that to be very very wrong,” he tweeted.
Maria Shriver tweeted that Caan was a legend, while Barbra Streisand – who stared with him in 1975’s Funny Lady, tweeted: “I’m so sorry to hear about Jimmy. He was so talented.”
James Edmund Caan was born in the Bronx borough of New York City on March 26, 1940 to German Jewish immigrants.
One of three siblings, he began acting on television in 1961.
He gained widespread acclaim for his role in the 1972 football movie Brian’s Song, in which he played real-life Chicago Bears American football player Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer at age 26.
The role earned Caan an Emmy nomination.
Actor Adam Sandler, who co-starred with Caan in 1996 comedy Bulletproof, said he “always wanted to be like him”.
“Never ever stopped laughing when I was around that man. His movies were best of the best,” Sandler said on Twitter.
Caan married four times, and is survived by four children: daughter Tara, and four sons, Scott (also an actor), Alexander, James and Jacob.