OUT OF HIS MISERY
Actor James Caan was approached by the Reaper, bada bing, died aged 82. He initially aspired to be an NFL player, before college courses enthralled him with the acting world and saved me from a routine “not another sodding NFL obit” conniption. Early film roles were mostly in Westerns or NFL-related, and his star was already on the rise when his former classmate Francis Ford Coppola cast him in The Godfather. He was so effective at portraying hot-headed, bullet-barraged Sonny Corleone that many assumed the Jewish Caan was Italian!
His career proved bountiful from there, with him developing a reputation for versatility and bringing value to even the clunker films. Though he achieved numerous commercial successes, it was with a less lucrative film – neo-noir Thief – where he performed his personal favourite non-Godfather role as a jewel thief embarking on his last heist. A venture into directing was also attempted, but its chilly reception and the increasing prevalence of sequelitis in the industry left Caan deflated. Offscreen, he developed a macho, larger-than-life reputation, practicing karate and rodeo roping while cursing like a sailor. The four-times-married, four-times-divorced Caan had several brushes with the law, and a cocaine addiction developed after the 1981 leukaemia death of his sister derailed his career for several years.
Caan cleaned up and came roaring back with Misery, in which he played an author kept bedbound by an obsessive fan. Though the struggles with the law continued – not helped by his friendship with an actual mobster – Caan remained consistently employed from then on and often leaned heavily into Corleone-esque characters. A supporting role in Elf made him part of the Yuletide furniture, and in recent years he kept active on Twitter while unfailingly suffixing his posts with “End of tweet”. Even photo tweets that were otherwise without comment. Pictures of a haggard, wheelchair-bound Caan drew raised deadpooler interest, with five teams picking him this year and ZZ Topped: Heaven, Hell or Houston seeing their aspirations of a 2022 wooden spoon in the Caan. End of obit
26 March 1940 – 6 July 2022, aged 82
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