Legendary “The Godfather” Actor James Caan Dies at 82

The Godfather star James Caan has died aged 82, his relatives said Thursday.

According to a message posted on his official Twitter account, Mr. Caan died on Wednesday.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” the statement read.

The US actor’s family thanked fans and supporters for “the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences.” They also asked people to continue to respect their privacy during “this difficult time.”

Best known for playing Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, Mr. Caan initially wanted to become a football star. However, he began acting when he studied at Hofstra University, where he also met film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Mr. Caan had several minor television and film roles until he starred in the Howard Hawks films Ted Line 7000 and El Dorado in 1965. Later, in 1972, he gained international fame when he got his big break in The Godfather.

At the time, the media reported that Mr. Caan had auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone and was approved by studio executives. However, Al Pacino ended up playing the character due to Coppola’s insistence.

The US actor received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his part in the epic mob drama.

Mr. Caan also played a dying professional football player in Brian’s Son, a TV movie that earned him additional Oscar and Emmy nominations.

In the 1980s, he briefly stepped out of the spotlight, saying he was going through a “pretty scary period” both professionally and personally amid drug use and his sister’s death. Mr. Caan also got into arguments on set, was married and divorced four times, and publicly battled depression.

However, the star returned with other successful roles for the hit movies Misery and Elf.

The beloved actor had spent the last few years exchanging tweets with his fans, managing to amass quite a following. His posts usually ended with the phrase “End of tweet,” which his family also used to announce his death.