The number one question people ask me when they watch Preggoland is “What was it like working with James Caan?”
So here it is…..
Working with James Caan was like working with most veteran actors who are damn good at their jobs: They have been there for years, they often know much more than you and they do not really like change. So rather than poke the bear, learn from him. Watch him, listen to him and – most of all – respect him.
Now that that is out of the way… let’s get into the nitty-gritty, because that is what people really want to hear.
Jimmy, as he liked to be called, was exactly what you would expect him to be.
He loves the ladies – in the most sincere way possible – and will be the first to tell you that. On Day 1 of shooting, before Sonja Bennett or I could begin to feel nervous, he jumped in the car, set his steely blue eyes on us and beamed, “Aaah. I’ve got good looking daughters!”
In the next breath, he told Sonja Bennett, “I ain’t wearing that other shirt! I had them get me this. This is more me, that other one? That was not happening.”
That was Jimmy. Big heart. Big voice. Big opinion. No apologies. But the amazing part about working with people like James Caan is that you really can just sit and listen to them talk all day. So that is what I did.
Jimmy reminded me of my grandpa. He was rough around the edges but had a soft spot for anyone who matched him. Early on, he got grumpy with me and I gave it right back to him. I tend to hold my own in those settings. From that point on, we had a great connection! From there, every day was story time with Jimmy.
Over the shoot, he told me the whole story of how ended up living at the Playboy Mansion early on in his career.
“I was second in command after Hugh Hefner”, he joked.
He spoke so highly of the ladies at the Playboy Mansion and how he really looked out for them when he was there. He realized that many of them were so young and new to Los Angeles and how at the end of the day, they were someone’s sister, daughter, even mom. I could tell he looked back on it with nothing but joy and admiration for them all. It was really sweet to hear.
On another occasion, he told me all about filming The Godfather trilogy. He referred to Robert Duvall as ‘Bobby’ – they are still close friends – and joked about the pros and cons of working with both him and Marlon Brando. He taught me how to have your lines in a scene without anyone catching it on camera and he even shared a secret about a fellow actor who once broke a crew guy’s nose for disagreeing with him. Yikes. He truly had some juicy intel, to which I shall keep to myself.
But my favourite James Caan stories were those he told about his family.
For a man who has been married 4 times, he constantly told me to “never take the plunge, it is costs too damn much!”
He talked about his kids, his mothers-in-law, the ones that got away, the ones that would not stay away and so on. However, thanks to his beloved son Scott Caan (Hawaii 5-0) this “tough ladies’ man” could not contain his excitement for the arrival of his first grandchild. He talked about it daily and you really could see that ‘Grandpa Caan’ was going to be his best role yet.
In random places like a kitchen in Maple Ridge or an SUV in Pitt Meadows, sitting between takes with the legend I learned to love from the time my first boyfriend made me watch The Godfather trilogy in 24 hours, left me in awe.
Many people you meet in the business are nothing like you would expect them to be. But Jimmy is exactly as advertised. He comes from a time when being an actor was about working hard at your craft, not your social media presence. If you could not act, you did not work. So he expects everyone else around him to play at his level, to come prepared and to make no excuses. He challenges you to do your best work. That is what makes him a legend!
So all in all, how was working with James Caan? Everything I could have hoped for and more. Thank you Jimmy!!