In James Caan’s relationship with Will Ferrell

Tragically, Oscar-nominated actor James Caan died on July 6, according to a statement from his family. Acting in films since the 1960s, Caan was a highly respected and well-liked figure in Hollywood, and many of his peers revered him for his legendary acting skills. Upon hearing of Caan’s death, comedian Adam Sandler tweeted, “I loved him dearly. Always wanted to be like him. So happy I met him. I never stopped laughing when I was with this man.” Comedian Andy Richter lamented, “Was fortunate to work with him after loving his work his whole life [Caan] and I loved him even more as a person… They say never meet your heroes, but he proved that very, very wrong.

Though best known for his dramatic roles — like Sonny in The Godfather and Paul in Misery — Caan was a versatile actor who could tickle your funny bone too. One of his most famous comedic roles was as Will Ferrell’s father in the 2003 Christmas classic Elf. So, what was it like when lead actor Caan and funny man Ferrell teamed up?

Will Ferrell was grateful for the collaboration with James Caan

Like many other actors, Will Ferrell was amazed that he had the chance to star in a film opposite James Caan. Elf director Jon Favreau said in the film’s DVD commentary that Ferrell and Caan had great chemistry on set as they “[played] incredibly well apart” (via SlashFilm). And perhaps one of the stories that best showcases Caan’s personality is one Ferrell told on 2018’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

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“[Caan] approached me [‘Elf’] Premiere,” Ferrell began. “And he’s like, ‘Hey, I have something to tell you. Every day on set I thought you were overdoing it but now I see what you’re doing, great job!'”

That’s definitely fair judgment from Caan considering how ridiculous Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf is, especially when their characters first meet. But this story just shows Caan’s personality and how he was just an upstanding guy. Ferrell had no problem with the seemingly dubious compliment either; He recalled on “The Late Late Show,” “Just coming to work with him every day, kind of a pinch-me moment.”