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Masculine and enigmatic actor whose life & movie career have had more ups and downs than the average rollercoaster, and whose selection of roles has arguably derailed him from achieving true superstar status.
New York born & bred, the athletically gifted James Caan played football at Michigan State University while studying economics, holds a black belt in karate, and for several years he was even a regular on the rodeo circuit. However, while studying at Hofstra University, acting began to intrigue him and he was interviewed and accepted at Sanford Meisner's Neighbourhood Playhouse. Caan then won a scholarship to study under acting coach Wynn Handman, and began to appear in several off-Broadway productions including "I Roam" & "Mandingo".
He made his screen debut as a sailor in Irma la Douce, and began to impress audiences with his work in Red Line 7000, and the western El Dorado alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. Further work followed in Journey to Shiloh and in the sensitive The Rain People. However, audiences were moved to tears as he put in a heart rending performance as cancer stricken Chicago Bears running back, Brian Piccolo in the high rating telemovie Brian's Song (1970).
With these strong performances under his belt, Francis Ford Coppola then cast him as fiery tempered gangster Santino "Sonny" Corleone in the Mafia epic The Godfather. The film was an enormous success, Caan scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination and in the years since, the role has proved to be the one most fondly remembered by his legion of fans. He reprised the role for several flashback scenes in the sequel The Godfather: Part II and them moved onto several very diverse projects.
These included a cop buddy crime duo with Alan Arkin in the uneven Freebie and the Bean, alongside Lauren Hutton playing for his life in a superb performance in The Gambler, and joining 'Barbara Streisand' in Funny Lady. Two further strong lead roles came up for him in 1975.....firstly as a futuristic sports star "Jonathon E" questioning the moral fibre of a sterile society in Rollerball, and then teaming with Robert Duvall in the Sam Peckinpah spy thriller The Killer Elite.
At this stage of his career, Caan's rising star spluttered badly as several film projects failed to fire with either critics or audiences...these included the Harry and Walter Go to New York, the quasi-western Comes a Horseman and Chapter Two. However, he did score again with the stylish Michael Mann directed heist movie Thief. He followed this up with a supernatural romantic comedy titled Kiss Me Goodbye. He returned with a stellar performance under old friend Francis Ford Coppola in the moving Gardens of Stone.
Caan lifted his visibility with Alien Nation, Dick Tracy, and then surprised everyone by playing a meek romance novelist held captive after a car accident by a deranged fan in the dynamic Misery. The 1990s were kind to him and he notched up roles as a bandleader in For the Boys, another evil gangster in Honeymoon in Vegas, appeared in the indie hit Bottle Rocket and pursued Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser.
The demand on Caan's talents seem's to have increased steadily over the past few years, as he is making himself known to a new generation of fans. Recent hot onscreen roles have included The Yards, City of Ghosts plus Dogville. In addition, he finds himself at the helm of the hit TV series Las Vegas as casino security chief "Big Ed" Deline. An actor of an undeniably manly appeal, Caan continues to surprise & delight audiences with his invigorating performances.
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