Francis Ford Coppola leads tributes to The Godfather actor James Caan

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Francis Ford Coppola called late actor James Caan "one of the funniest people" he's ever known following his death.

The legendary director made a statement to Deadline after the star's passing on Wednesday at the age of 82. James had appeared in his films The Rain People and The Godfather.

"Jimmy was someone who stretched through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I've ever known. From those earlier times working together on The Rain People, and throughout all the milestones of my life, his films and the many great roles he played will never be forgotten," said 83-year-old Coppola. "He will always be my old friend from Sunnyside, my collaborator and one of the funniest people I've ever known."

Caan was nominated for an Oscar, his only nod, for his performance as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, and briefly reprised his role in 1974 for The Godfather II.

In addition, several of Caan's co-stars and peers remembered the New York native.

"Jimmy was my fictional brother and my lifelong friend. It's hard to believe that he won't be in the world anymore because he was so alive and daring. A great actor, a brilliant director and my dear friend. I loved him, gonna miss him," said Al Pacino in a statement, while Robert De Niro added: "I'm very very sad to hear about Jimmy's passing."

In addition, celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Adam Sandler, Andy Richter, Gary Sinise, and Jon Lovitz also honoured Caan.

And Kathy Bates, who appeared alongside the actor in 1990 film Misery, shared that she was "bereft" by his passing.

"I can't believe Jimmy's gone. Working with him on Misery was one of the most profound experiences of my career," she commented. "When you watch his performance, his terror, it's as though he's watching a snake. Brilliant. So many memories flooding back today... He was kind. Hilarious. He would have something insightfully funny to say right now. I'm bereft."

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