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Francis Ford Coppola, Rob Reiner, and More Pen Tributes to James Caan: A ‘Menacing, Magnificent Actor’

The 82-year-old iconic star of "The Godfather" and "Elf" passed away on July 6.

MICKEY BLUE EYES, James Caan, 1999, talking on a portable phone

James Caan in “Mickey Blue Eyes”

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Hollywood is mourning the loss of legendary actor James Caan.

The “Godfather” alum died at age 82 on July 6. His official Twitter page confirmed his death, writing, “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

Francis Ford Coppola, who first directed Caan in “The Rain People” and then the “Godfather” films, said in a statement that the late actor will “never be forgotten” both for his onscreen achievements and as a friend.

“Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I’ve ever known,” Coppola said, via Deadline. “From those earlier times working on ‘The Rain People’ and throughout all the milestones of my life, his films and the many great roles he played will never be forgotten. He will always be my old friend from Sunnyside, my collaborator, and one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.”

The Godfather” co-star Al Pacino told IndieWire, “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’m going to miss him.”

Robert De Niro echoed, “I’m very very sad to hear about Jimmy’s passing.”

Director Scott Dickerson took to Twitter to caption, “Goodbye James Caan. The passing of a legend,” when retweeting the news of Caan’s passing.

Christopher McQuarrie credited Caan for influencing his directorial debut “The Way of the Gun.” McQuarrie tweeted, ” ‘Like it or not, this is your movie. Nobody else’s. Now quit fuckin’ around and direct.’ – James Caan, in some Utah parking lot. 1999.”

He added, “Thank you, Jimmy, for teaching me the fine art of adjudication and for setting me on the path. And thank you most of all for being The Dream.”

“Thief” director Michael Mann wrote a tribute to Caan in a press statement.

“What a terrible and tragic loss,” Mann penned. “Jimmy was not just a great actor with total commitment and a venturesome spirit, but he had a vitality in the core of his being that drove everything from his art and friendship to athletics and very good times. There was a core of values within him about how people should be, more or less. It might be variable, the corners could be rounded with urban irony, but there was a line and it was non-fungible. And it produced many outrageous and hilarious anecdotes.”

He continued, “I loved him and I loved working with him. He reached into the core of his being during difficult personal times to be the rebellious, half wild child, institutionalized outsider Frank, in my first film, ‘Thief.’ Frank is half Frank, half Jimmy. The character and the man – like his Sonny in ‘The Godfather’ – were made for each other. Unique. What a loss.”

Rob Reiner, who directed Caan in Oscar-winning “Misery,” penned, “So sorry to hear the news. I loved working with him. And the only Jew I knew who could calf rope with the best of them. Love to the family.”

“Brian’s Song” actor Billy Dee Williams shared a gym photo alongside his former co-star Caan with the caption, “Team Mates and friends till the end. RIP Jimmy,” with a heartbreaking emoji.

Adam Sandler remembered Caan, saying, “Loved him very much. Always wanted to be like him. So happy I got to know him. Never ever stopped laughing when I was around that man. His movies were best of the best. We all will miss him terribly. Thinking of his family and sending my love.”

Alex Winter wrote, “Ugh. I just saw him speak at the ‘Godfather’ 50 with Francis and Talia and he was as spirited and fiery as ever. What a giant.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn praised Caan’s lesser-known performances like “Thief,” as well as Caan’s turn in the “Godfather” trilogy.

“Rest In Peace James Caan,” Gunn tweeted. “There are so many movies of his I love, ‘The Godfather’ films of course being at the very top, but here are a few more I adore (‘Thief’ in particular was a Gunn family classic – I had the poster on my wall in high school).”

Jon Lovitz wrote of the “Elf” actor, “Well, this just sucks about James Caan. I was lucky enough to work with him & be friends. Always a fun guy to be around. He was always supportive of my career. He even did a cameo in my tv special and got Robert Duvall to be in it. A highlight of my career. God bless James Caan.”

See more tributes to the late actor below.

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