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This Day in Horror History: Happy Birthday James Caan

IMDB describes James Caan as “a masculine and enigmatic actor whose life and movie career have had more ups and downs than the average rollercoaster”! Horror fans no doubt remember him best for his turn as Paul Sheldon in Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery (released in 1990). If it’s been a while, or if you’ve yet to experience the chocker for yourself, give the trailer and synopsis for Misery a look-see below.

After a serious car crash, novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who claims to be his biggest fan. Annie brings him to her remote cabin to recover, where her obsession takes a dark turn when she discovers Sheldon is killing off her favorite character from his novels. As Sheldon devises plans for escape, Annie grows increasingly controlling, even violent, as she forces the author to shape his writing to suit her twisted fantasies.

James Caan also stars in the genre-adjacent flicks Alien Nation and The Dark Backward.

He was originally tested for the role of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather (1972) (director Francis Ford Coppola had worked with him and Robert Duvall in The Rain People (1969) and wanted them in the movie), but then was slated to play Michael Corleone after Paramount’s initial choices (which included Warren Beatty, Robert Redford and Ryan O’Neal) did not pan out. When Al Pacino came on board, Caan was switched back to Sonny. (Source)

He turned down Jack Nicholson’s role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Not one to repeat that mistake, he accepted the lead role in Misery (1990) when Nicholson turned it down. Both films involved the lead character being at the mercy of a sadistic nurse. (Source)

James Caan was born on this day in 1940 and, today, all of us here at Dread Central wish him a very Happy Birthday!

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