It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Adam Sandler playing the lead role of Howard Ratner in the Safdie Brothers’ thriller movie Uncut Gems. That role is arguably Sandler’s best performance to date, but the part very nearly went to none other than James Caan, the late great actor who has starred in some of the best movies of all time.
Caan sadly passed away recently, with his family announcing that the legendary actor had died on July 6, 2022. As expected, there was a mass swell of love and adoration shared to social media from fans and those who shared filmmaking experiences with him. Among those, was a tweet from the Safdie Brothers, explaining how close they got to working with the man.
The tweet reads: “After Sandler first rejected us our instinct was to cast James Caan as Howard. Obviously it was always Sandman’s part, but in the air somewhere is a version with Jimmy Caan.” The tweet also contains an image of Caan that appears to be attached to a cast wishlist from the Safdie archives.
Of course, Sandler did indeed take the role eventually, and he knocked it out of the park, garnering mass critical acclaim for his portrayal of the desperate dealer Howard Ratner.
Caan is known for his roles in movies like The Godfather, Thief, Misery, and even the Christmas movie Elf, where he plays Buddy the Elf’s estranged father.
After sandler first rejected us our instinct was to cast James Caan as Howard. Obvs it was always sandman’s part, but in the air somewhere is a version with jimmy caan… as seen here in 2011.. RIP pic.twitter.com/GeD3xlPWEe
— SAFDIE (@JOSH_BENNY) July 8, 2022
We can only imagine what an actor like Caan would have brought to the chaos of a Safdie Brothers film, but one thing’s for sure, it would have been pretty damn incredible.