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James Caan on Communication

Mike Whalen facilitated an up-close conversation between some 30 students and actor James Caan, known for his nearly 100 roles in film and television that range from Sonny in The Godfather to Buddy’s dad in the comedy Elf. In order to trust your instincts, Caan says it’s imperative to have an “inner life.” You have to make constant choices in how you live that make you interesting—more interesting than the other people auditioning for the same role. He emphasized the importance of having conflict in every single scene you create. He said this means that if you don’t find it in the script, you must create it yourself. “Writers don’t like this, but the words become unimportant, secondary. Your instincts are what matter,” he said. Caan was on campus for a Churchill Club Program: Leadership & Business Lessons from The Godfather, co-sponsored by the Vari Italian Studies Initiative and the Leavey School of Business.

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