How James Caan’s ‘Godfather’ co-stars remember late actor

The Godfather family on Thursday paid tribute to fallen son James Caan, who played violent enforcer Sonny Corleone in the iconic 1972 film.

The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, including best picture and leading actor for Marlon Brando’s role as mob boss Vito Corleone, at a ceremony commemorating Brando’s refusal to accept his award.

Caan, who died Wednesday at the age of 82, earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting role as the eldest son (with a “temperament like his father’s”) in Francis Ford Coppola’s film, but ultimately lost to Cabaret’s Joel Gray. But Caan was in good company and was nominated in the supporting actor category along with his Godfather co-stars Al Pacino and Robert Duvall.

“When it comes to the action, I’m as good as anyone, and don’t forget that,” said Sonny von Caan famously.

Of course, the Executioner – who eventually (and briefly) became the head of the Corleone family – eventually met his own death in one of cinema’s most brutal death scenes. Sonny was brutally gunned down at a tollbooth by a rival mob family in an impulsive attempt to save his sister Connie.

Here’s a look at what some of the cast and crew from the Godfather saga had to say about him:

Francis Ford Coppola, director and producer

Three men in tuxedos stand on the stage

Al Pacino, left, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert De Niro at the 2022 Oscars.

(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

“Jimmy was someone who stretched farther and farther through my life than any movie character I’ve ever known. From my previous collaboration on The Rain People and all the milestones of my life, his films and the many great roles he has played will never be forgotten. He will always be my old friend from Sunnyside, my co-worker and one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.”

Talia Shire, Connie Corleone

A woman arrives at a red carpet event

Talia Shire at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Godfather.

(John Salangsang/Invision/Associated Press)

“James was a good man, a kind man, a family man and an incredibly gifted man – whose great talent will always be loved and remembered. My prayers are with his family who he loves so much.”

Al Pacino, Michael Corleone

Two men in conversation

Al Pacino (left) and James Caan talk in a scene from The Godfather.

(Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images)

“Jimmy was my fictional brother and my lifelong friend. It’s hard to believe that he won’t be around anymore because he was so alive and brave.

“A great actor, a brilliant director and my dear friend. I loved him, I will miss him.”

Robert De Niro, young Vito Corleone

An elderly man poses for a portrait

“The Godfather: Part II” actor Robert De Niro poses for a portrait at the 92nd Academy Awards nominees’ luncheon at the Loews Hotel in Los Angeles on January 27, 2020.

(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

“I am very, very sad to hear of Jimmy’s passing.” How James Caan’s ‘Godfather’ co-stars remember late actor

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