The wish James Caan expressed a year before his death

Hollywood is still reeling from the tragic death of actor James Caan, who died on July 6th. Caan’s family confirmed that he went through one of Caan’s newest favorite forms of communication: Twitter. Caan has been active on the platform for the past few years, even earning the nickname “America’s Twitter Grandpa,” and fans took notice — especially how he ended each post with “end of tweet.” When his family confirmed his death on the social media platform, some fans probably couldn’t help but chuckle at the “end of tweet” recording.

The actor best known for playing Sonny Corleone in 1972’s ‘The Godfather’ somehow avoided typing and played a variety of notable roles throughout his life, ranging from Rolling Stone: a vengeful cowboy in ‘El Dorado’, to a soccer player with a terminal illness in the 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song, a career criminal who tries one last hit before going straight in Thief, a vulnerable romance novelist held captive by the psychotic Kathy Bates in Misery, a gangster who pays to sleep with a gambler’s wife in the 1992 comedy(!) Honeymoon in Vegas; and the estranged father of one of Santa’s helpers in the Christmas classic Elf. Caan told CBS Sunday Morning, “I fought to never be the same person again. I mean, the fun of being an actor is being someone else for three months.”

And yet Caan was still not satisfied. Although he died at the age of 82 and has more than 137 credits on his IMDb page, Caan wanted to do more.

James Caan never wanted to stop acting

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Though he played many interesting roles over his 60-year career, with at least one credit each year from 1961 to 1983, James Caan took a hiatus from acting between 1983 and 1987 while recovering from drug use and mourning the death of his sister of leukemia, per Los Angeles Times. “Sometimes it takes terrible things in your life for you to realize what’s really important,” he said at the time. “I realized that passion is the most important thing in my life. And I had lost that passion for the film business.” He returned in 1987 on a similar schedule: at least one credit, often more, almost every year between 1987 and 2021 — even releasing projects during the closed pandemic. And yet, despite all those disparate efforts, he still felt unfinished in a July 2021 interview with CBS Sunday Morning.

“I want to do a good job. I’m frustrated, I’d like to do a real character thing,” he told host Ben Mankiewicz. “I can’t take it lightly. For me it’s fun to work. I love working with good people. I have more fun at work and I laugh a lot. And sometimes I’m respected too.”

Caan worked until his death at age 82, appearing in the 2020 TV movie JL Family Ranch 2 and the 2021 comedy Queen Bees opposite Ellen Burstyn in an assisted living facility of sorts Mean Girls. He will return to his gangster roots in the 2023 film Fast Charlie, which is currently in post-production.

James Caan didn’t like where movies went

Although James Caan clearly expressed his desire to never stop working, it was less clear what roles he still hoped to play. “I’m always trying to do something different,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. But there were certainly film genres he rejected when he returned to the big screen in 1987.

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“I also think one of the reasons for the self-imposed hiatus was that it was better than having to be in this whole bunch of kids’ movies,” Caan said. “I just didn’t see myself as an idiot or as a captain of a spaceship.” We all know now what a juggernaut “Star Wars” has become, and the writing was on the wall long after part three, “Return of the Jedi” , premiered in 1983. According to Filmsite, all but three of the top-grossing films of the decade were special effects blockbusters, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Batman. Caan had previously turned down roles in Star Wars, Superman, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, according to Mental Floss.

The ’80s also ushered in the era of coming-of-age teen movies like John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles, Stand by Me, and The Goonies, and Caan knew his brand wasn’t in demand back then. “I think the directors took themselves way too seriously,” he said. “And I think they would hire actors who didn’t detract from their skills or the special effects.”