James Caan Broke Ribs: While it is widely acknowledged that The Godfather is a classic film, it is not particularly well-known for its spectacular action sequences. Sonny Corleone (James Caan), the violent and impetuous protagonist, likely gets into the biggest brawl of the entire drama film after discovering that his brother-in-law Carlo is abusing his wife.
When Sonny sees how Carlo treats his sister, he becomes enraged and knocks the unfortunate guy out with the lid of a trash can, leaving him for dead in the street. Unfortunately for Gianni Russo, who played Carlo, Caan fractured his ribs during filming of the fight, forcing him to resort to some unintended method acting.
According to an interview Russo gave to Entertainment Weekly, he and Misery star James Caan didn’t get along, and Caan went a little over away during the fight scene during filming. According to Russo, “Sonny and I had a problem throughout the movie, on and off the set,” and that he “pissed [Caan] off” with his knowledge of the locals before filming began.
It took us about a day and a half to choreograph that scenario,” he continued. When I stepped off the stoop, Jimmy “got a little aggressive,” as I put it, and he improvised a few things, including the little billy club he threw at me. This guy just bit my hands and threw me over the fence after hitting me in the head with that. When I was trying to get out, his kick picked me right up. That was not supposed to take place.
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After the battle, Russo says he had two ribs cracked and his elbow chipped. Why then did Russo not make a fuss? He didn’t want to seem too critical as this was his first film experience.
Caan, who died in the summer of 2022, insisted that he never battled the actual Russo but rather a stunt double. There was no hard feelings between Russo and Caan, even after Caan passed away.
Russo said to the New York Post, “He discredits me even doing the scene.” “Unfortunately, the guy we’re discussing has already passed away, and that was his story to the end. He literally took it to the grave with him.
Godfather Actor Reveals James Caan’s Feud
The actor who played Carlo Rizzi, the brother-in-law who was brutally beaten by James Caan’s Sonny Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 classic The Godfather, says that his character wasn’t the only thing to take damage on set.
Actor Gianni Russo, who played Rizzi, the abusive husband of Corleone’s only daughter, says that his relationship with Caan had already been strained before filming began, but that things came to a head while filming the violent altercation (prompted by Rizzi’s mistreatment of Corleone’s sister) in Harlem, New York.
Russo claims that his familiarity with the neighborhood (and its residents) likely “pissed [Caan] off” before the cameras rolled and that this was the source of “a problem” between the two of them throughout the film’s production and its promotion.
About a day and a half went into choreographing that scenario… I’d say Jimmy got overly combative and improvised a few tools, including the little billy club he threw at me as I descended the porch steps. He smacked me in the head, threw me over the ledge, and now he’s biting my hands. When I was trying to get out, his kick picked me right up. That was not supposed to take place.
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He also claims that Caan’s actions caused him to suffer a chipped elbow and two broken ribs. Nonetheless, he insists that he never meant for the action to be taken away from the theatre.
Even with all the blows, Caan landed on Russo, one of them seemed staged.
He reflected, “Everyone knows [the punch is actually] about six inches away from me during that one miss when he throws that punch at me and I react.” As I put it to Francis Ford Coppola on the occasion of the film’s 25th anniversary:
“Why didn’t you fix that?” Since we installed cameras in strategic locations, including on the roof. We gave them every advantage they could have used to fix it, but they still wouldn’t touch it. After an Oscar, you can never go back to the negative.
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