Actor Gianni Russo, who famously played the role of Carlo Rizzi in the iconic film “The Godfather,” recently spilled the tea on his relationship with the late James Caan. Caan played the role of Santino “Sonny” Corleone in the film and won awards for his incredible performance.
However, according to Russo, Caan was not such an amazing person in real life. He recently revealed that after filming for “The Godfather” wrapped up, he and Caan had no contact until Caan’s agent reached out to ask for a role in one of his movies.
Russo had an interview with The New York Post and shared some of his not-so-sweet memories with Caan, a filming incident where the late actor reportedly injured him. Read on to find out more.
James Caan Was Rude To Gianni Russo
Russo revealed that after “The Godfather,” he ensured he had no contact with Caan until he received a call from the actor’s agent. Russo was casting actors for the 1999 film “Any Given Sunday,” which he co-produced, and Caan wanted in on the project.
Russo said the agent told him, “You know, Jimmy would be great in this movie. He’s a great sports buff.” He recalled his reply: “Do you think I would hire James Caan? I wouldn’t give Jimmy Caan a part in anything.’ He was so rude to me.”
The Upper East Ender claimed that Caan was very unfriendly to him from the minute they met at the first rehearsal for “The Godfather,” which was held at Patsy’s restaurant on West 119th Street.
He said, “The biggest thorn in his side was, ‘Who’s Gianni Russo?’ This guy, he studied with Stella Adler, you name it. He was never nice to me from day one. But I’m thinking he was in character cause he’s a thespian.”
James Caan Was In Love With Mobsters
Russo revealed that Caan quickly proved that the bad treatment was not him being in character. He realized that Caan, a native of Sunnyside, Queens, truly just didn’t like him, especially when it became clear that Russo had ties with some real-life mobsters, like Carlo Gambino and Frank Costello.
He said, “Cause he’s hanging around with mob guys, like Carmine Persico, and mob guys all know me already. I came from Mulberry Street, how do you live on Mulberry Street and not know mob guys?”
He shared that Caan was “in love with mobsters” and their lifestyle because of his experience filming for “The Godfather.” Russo said, “Till the day he died, he thought he was a mobster. He thought he was Sonny Corleone.”
Russo Said Caan Hurt Him Once During Filming
During the interview, Russo also claimed that Caan once took things too far while they were filming a fight scene for “The Godfather.” In the scene, Caan’s character, Sunny, beats up Russo’s character, Carlo, after discovering that he had physically abused his sister.
Russo clarified that they used a stunt double for most of the scene, especially where Carlo gets thrown over a railing. However, he shared that he featured in the scene too and suffered an injury from Caan. He said, “That’s me. He’s biting my hand; he’s banging my elbow with that steel garbage pail. He chipped my elbow.”
“When I crawled out and he lifted me in the air, he broke two of my ribs, which was not in the rehearsal. That was me laying there,” he said. Until his death, Caan never admitted that he hurt Russo, insisting that a stunt double did all the work in that scene and all his other fight scenes for the film.
Russo said, “He discredits me even doing the scene. Unfortunately, we’re talking about a guy that’s dead, and to his dying day, that’s his story. He took it to his grave as we would say.”
James Caan Recently Passed at The Age Of 82
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Caan was famous for several other iconic projects besides “The Godfather.” He also worked on “Elf,” “El Dorado,” and “Brian’s Song,” among many others. His family recently announced that the iconic actor passed away at 82 years old.
They posted a statement on Caan’s official Twitter account, which read, “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
Caan is survived by his five kids, Scott Caan, James Arthur Caan, Tara Caan, Jacob Nicholas Caan, and Alexander James Caan. The family is yet to reveal the actor’s cause of death. Many of his co-stars, such as Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, and Johnny Taylor, have all written tributes to the late icon.