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One of the classic Sonny Corleone moments in The Godfather was improvised, James Caan revealed.
In a recent interview with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, the Oscar-nominated actor said it was not scripted in the opening wedding scene of the iconic 1972 film for the hot-headed Sonny, the eldest of the Corleone boys, to break the camera of the FBI agent and then throw some money on the ground.
“I grabbed that camera and I smashed that camera,” he said. “And I looked and realized that in my neighborhood I did wrong, and I took out $20 and threw it on the street.”
The 81-year-old Caan also talked about how he somewhat modeled Sonny on an unexpected source: legendary comedian Don Rickles. “It wasn’t imitating Don Rickles. It was having that drive, that thing, you know? I was just locked into that,” he said of the late comic’s persona.
Caan stressed in the closing of the interview that he still has some gas left in the tank and is holding out hope for one more great role. “I want to do a good piece of work,” he said. “I’m frustrated. I would love to do a real character thing. I can’t take it easy. I enjoy working. I have more fun when I’m working, and I have a lot of laughs. And I get respect, too — sometimes.”
Watch the full interview below.
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The Green Knight