The James Caan And Francis Ford Coppola Film Reunion We'll Sadly Never See

James Caan, the Oscar — and Emmy — nominated actor famous for portraying Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather" passed away July 6 at the age of 82, as NPR reported. "It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6," his official Twitter account announced. "The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time."

Caan's death is a tragedy for his friends and family. But, it also puts a final end to a potential Hollywood reunion half a century in the making between Caan and "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola. Caan has long been rumored to play a potential role in "Megapolis," the film that Coppola has been dreaming of making since the late 1970s, according to GQ. While Caan wasn't part of the official cast announced in May of 2022 — which consisted of Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jon Voight, and Nathalie Emmanuel — GQ speculated that he could have been added later. Sadly, that is now no longer a possibility. 

A New Rome

Francis Ford Coppola's "Megapolis" is finally set to start filming this year, but it has been a long time in the making, according to GQ. Coppola is planning to fund the film himself, which is why it's been called "Francis Ford Coppola's $100m gamble." The story melds the history of ancient Rome with contemporary New York City, as Coppola told Deadline in 2021. "This story takes place in a new Rome, a Roman epic sent in modern times," he said. "The time set is not a specific year in modern New York, it's an impression of modern New York, which I call New Rome."

As of 2021, the plot was to be based on the Catiline Conspiracy. This was an incident in ancient Rome in which impoverished aristocrat Catiline attempted to overthrow the Roman Republic but was tattled on by Cicero, who was nouveau riche, according to PSU. Coppola told Deadline he wanted Oscar Isaac as an updated Catiline and Forest Whitaker in the Cicero role as a mayor of New York also inspired by Mayor David Dinkins. However, Isaac was not a part of the official cast list a year later. Coppola also told Deadline that he wanted the film to be a Hollywood epic in the tradition of Cecile B. DeMille.

The road to Megapolis

This isn't the first time that Francis Ford Coppola has been serious about filming his epic. Originally, he wanted to start shooting in the early 2000s, he told reporters at the Tomora Music Festival (via The Playlist). However, the mood at the time didn't match his vision of the film, which would see an architect try to design an ideal New York. The reason? 9/11. "I could not have made a film that talked about the goodness of the human being, when there was terrorism. So I let it go," he said, as The Playlist translated. 

Coppola felt empowered to try again a decade later after selling part of his Sonoma County vineyard to Delicato Family Wines, according to Deadline. He expected the film to cost between $100 and $120 million and said, "almost dollar for dollar," he could match any outside investment. "I'm committed to making this movie," he said.

Francis Ford Coppola and James Caan

Francis Ford Coppola didn't say what role James Caan would have played in his sprawling epic, but he did say he had given the casting a lot of thought. "I don't have all my cast approved," he told Deadline in 2021, "but I have enough of them to have confidence that it is going to be a very exciting cast." And, it's not clear if Caan would even have appeared in the picture. His death means these are questions that will likely never be answered. 

What is clear is how Coppola felt about his long-time friend, who he first directed in 1969's "The Rain People" before "The Godfather" turned them both into legends. "Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I've ever known," Coppola told Deadline after Cann's passing. He added that Caan's film roles would "never be forgotten," but the actor's role in Coppola's life was more personal. "He will always be my old friend from Sunnyside, my collaborator and one of the funniest people I've ever known," Coppola said.