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With screen credits that include Brian's Song, The Godfather, Misery and Elf, James Caan has more than earned the right to retire from Hollywood on a high note. But in a new interview with Ben Mankiewicz for CBS Sunday Morning, the 81-year-old film icon says he's still holding out hope that his best work is yet to come.
"I want to do a good piece of work," he says. "I'm frustrated. I'd love to do a real character thing."
In a long-ranging interview touching on his film breakthrough — he admits wearing lifts in his shoes when starring in 1966's Dorado alongside the towering John Wayne and Robert Mitchum — and other acclaimed roles, the actor best known for playing hotheaded gangster Sonny Corleone shares that retirement holds no appeal.
"I can't take it easy," he tells Mankiewicz. "To me, I enjoy working. I love to work with good people. I have more fun when I'm working, and I have a lot of laughs."
In true Corleone fashion, he added, with a smile "And I get respect too — sometimes."
Caan certainly hasn't been short on work of late, with recent films including Queen Bees, Undercover Grandpa and Out of Blue, though none would be considered critical darlings or box office hits. According to IMDB, he's been cast in the films Redemption and Acre Beyond the Rye.
Though he's ready to take on meaty roles right now, Caan has taken time out from Hollywood before, After his sister's death from leukemia in the early 1980s, he started using cocaine and took a five-year hiatus.
"When she died, I couldn't handle it," he now admits. "I didn't know what to do."
Caan credits director Rob Reiner for supporting his big comeback in 1990's Misery, in which he played bed-ridden novelist Paul Sheldon opposite Kathy Bates.
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