Adam Sandler And More React Following The Death Of James Caan

James Caan stands in front of Andy Samberg at the altar in That's My Boy.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Earlier today, the world was saddened by the announcement that iconic actor James Caan had died at the age of 82. Fans almost immediately started posting tributes on social media to the man known for, among many projects, The Godfather and Misery. Adam Sandler and more reacted to the news, there are stories attesting to Caan’s generosity as a performer and as a human being.

Having worked with the actor on both 1998’s Bulletproof and 2012’s That’s My Boy, Adam Sandler shared his memories on Twitter. Paying tribute to his co-star, Sandler posted a sweet message along with a vintage photo of James Caan: 

James Caan. 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.

James Caan’s legacy wasn’t only limited to his performances, as he was apparently quite the raconteur. Chucky star Jennifer Tilly shared a story she’d heard from her Jericho Mansions co-star about a bit of prank he’d pulled on The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. Tilly’s Tweet says:

James Caan always had the funniest stories. Once he told me Coppola had the habit of grabbing food off his plate & eating it, so one day he made a sandwich with very hot jalapeños between two pieces of buttered bread, & waited outside Coppola’s airstream. Coppola came roaring out to direct the next scene, grabbed the sandwich off the plate & gobbled it down. Immediately tears started squirting out of his eyes & he started yelling ‘What is this? What did you do to me?!’ And Jimmy said meekly ‘Did I ask you to eat my sandwich? Did I?’

Even in a voice role like Tim Lockwood in the animated comedy/streaming favorite Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, there was room for James Caan to give his collaborators a story they’d remember forever. Co-writer/director Chris Miller Tweeted about that experience by way of sharing this memory of Caan as an acting talent:

Once he said a line in his low gravelly voice & we said ‘try one with a little more projection, you and Flint will be outside on opposite ends of the backyard.’ So he said ‘Flint c’mere I don’t wanna yell,’ and then the rest of the line at the same volume. Absolute king

Another one of James Caan’s most memorable roles comes from the legendary film adaptation of Misery, the Stephen King novel. Collaborating with co-star Kathy Bates and director Rob Reiner on that thriller masterpiece, both took to Twitter to remember their friend with the following messages:

Kathy Bates: I’m heartbroken to hear of Jimmy’s passing. Shocked. No words. Thank you, Jimmy. Love you, your ‘Kat’

Rob Reiner: 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.

A legend in his own right, action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger Tweeted his own remembrance as well. Working with James Caan in Eraser, a project that could be counted among Schwarzenegger’s best movies, Arnold even highlighted Caan’s prowess at the gym in his tribute:

James Caan was an icon - a legend. He inspired everyone who has ever been in front of a camera. I was lucky to work with him and see his talent and his fantastic sense of humor firsthand. He was a great training partner in the gym and a true friend, and I’ll miss him.

In director Michael Mann’s feature debut Thief, James Caan’s role as safe cracker Frank helped cement the Miami Vice creator as a film legend. It would further inform his experience making Heat, which is still regarded as the best movie about bank robbing. That experience was a valuable one for Mann, and in a statement he issued personally, he reflected on the results:

What a terrible and tragic loss. 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. 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.

Wrapping the tributes to James Caan are the remarks of the friends and co-stars he made during his work on The Godfather. As Francis Ford Coppola issued a statement through Deadline, co-stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro did so as well through that same publication. Their remarks are combined below, in a fitting nod to Caan's work on this American classic: 

Francis Ford Coppola: Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I’ve ever known. From those earlier times working together 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.

Al Pacino: 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 gonna miss him.

Robert De Niro: I’m very very sad to hear about Jimmy’s passing.

This is only a sampling of how James Caan's legacy is being remembered today, through the words of his peers and his fans. As time goes on, only more will be available to peruse, further highlighting his contribution to cinema. Our sincerest condolences go out to Caan's friends and family, in this emotional time.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.