After Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in “The Godfather,” he found himself bored with the types of roles and films he was offered. In an interview with The Ringer in 2021, Caan explained that after playing the role of Sonny, “I was put into the nice, cool genre of being a leading man. And with that, there wasn’t some great character work that I did. desire to do.” When he laments in a New York Times interview in 1981, “everyone wants to do ‘Rocky Nine’, ‘Airport 96’ and ‘Jaws Seven’ and you look and you listen, and the meager idealism you leave behind slowly dries up.” In pondering what allows him to love his work, Caan says, “I have to have a passion for the project, and everything has to be right, so I don’t have to be heartbroken every day.”
Everything was right when veteran and aspiring cinema director Michael Mann revealed one of Caan’s films with a script for him. Caan was impressed with “Thief’s” script, explaining that “There’s only this unbelievable character. It’s almost like, too much. It’s almost like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Quoting Victor Hugo’s Gothic novel (there are several film adaptations in which the character Quasimodo is played by actors such as Lon Chaney and Charles Laughton) seems odd in the context of a movie about a tough thief on the street street, but Caan latched onto the character’s emotional complexity and masculinity at once – along with exactly how Mann intended when he arrived in Frank’s world.
https://www.slashfilm.com/988300/the-character-that-was-almost-too-much-for-james-caan/ The character is almost too much for James Caan