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James Caan Walked Out of ‘The Godfather’ Screening Due to Cut Scene: ‘I Was So Pissed Off’

Fifty years later and Caan is still thinking about the scene Francis Ford Coppola left on the cutting room floor.

THE GODFATHER, Robert Duvall, James Caan, 1972

Robert Duvall, James Caan, “The Godfather”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Leave the screening, take the cannoli.

James Caan says that he walked out of an initial “The Godfather” screening after realizing director Francis Ford Coppola cut a key scene involving Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen. Caan played Sonny Corleone, the eldest son of mafia don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando).

“When Michael [Al Pacino] tells me he is going to take care of the cop and Sollozzo [Al Lettieri], I say, ‘You’ll get brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.’ There was a scene before in the same room that I had with Bobby [Duvall] that was like 10 pages long — and Francis cut all of it out!” Caan told The Hollywood Reporter in honor of “The Godfather”‘s 50th anniversary. “I was so pissed off, I couldn’t watch the rest of the film.”

Caan added, “But otherwise, [Coppola] gave me a great honor.”

Caan also dismissed the rumor that he butted heads with co-star Gianni Russo on set. Russo claimed in 2017 that a physical altercation between their characters became elevated after Caan allegedly took out real-life frustrations. “Jimmy got a little aggressive,” Russo said back in 2017. “He improvised a few things like that little billy club he threw at me when I came off the stoop. He hit me right in the head with that, and then he throws me over the railing and he’s biting my hands… when I crawl out, he literally lifted me up with his kick… none of that was supposed to happen.”

Russo continued, “Jimmy and I are not friends at all, believe me. The guy’s nuts.”

Now, Caan cleared up the altercation, telling THR that Russo was mistaken.

“He had a fight with someone else. Not me,” Caan said. “I did the fight scene with stuntman Paul Baxley. He came in, and we made up the whole fight. And everything you saw in there is something that Paul and I created the day before.”

And it’s clear that co-star Duvall clicked with Caan right away.

“Jimmy made it so funny,” Duvall told THR about filming the scene where his character Vito examines Sonny’s corpse.

The tumultuous making of the blockbuster movie is at the center of the Paramount+ limited series “The Offer,” charting the behind-the-scenes drama that plagued the big-screen adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel. “The Offer” premieres April 28 on the streamer.

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