Truth be told, this much celebrated actor was no stranger to genre projects, though I'm not entirely certain he was all that thrilled with some of his work. I forget where I heard this story -- I don't believe I saw it on broadcast television, myself -- but who knows? It may've been the long-running 'Inside The Actors Studio' or something like that. In any event, Caan was there, and a moderator was present for audience questions. If I have the details correctly, someone stood up and wanted to ask the man about his thoughts on Alien Nation (1988), and -- given his response -- he was perhaps a bit insulted? My suspicion is that it was a highbrow affair, and there was probably an inordinate amount of chitchat around the Godfather films and his role in it. I guess the tenor of his refusal was that Alien Nation wasn't "serious acting," and he didn't want to go into that topic any further.
That's sad because that 1988 -- like it or not -- had legs strong enough to launch one of the minor franchises of the late 80's. It was an inspired bit of SciFi -- albeit with a bit of cheese -- and certainly boasts two singular performances from Caan and co-star Mandy Patinkin. I can certainly understand why it may not be considered (ahem) worthy of consideration alongside the Coppola crime epic, but it's still a film with a handful of interesting ideas worth a few polite words.
I don't bring this up to disparage the man at all because I think he's definitely free to speak his mind, as are we all. And I can only state that I hope he wasn't ashamed of Science Fiction and Fantasy as a whole because he definitely has an established track record in genre projects. For example:
1967's Countdown is far more SciFi/Drama than it is pure Science Fiction, but this Robert Altman directed picture had Caan as one of the American astronauts racing against time to save themselves in orbit in a story not dissimilar to the vastly more crowd-pleasing Apollo 13 (1995).
1975's Rollerball is one of those films that I, personally, don't feel gets the respect it deserves. That's likely because this social satire about personal freedom and liberty set against the backdrop of a future sports empire has a few silly, dated moments that kinda/sorta cheapen the mix. Otherwise, I think it has a great, gritty performance by Caan, one for which he won the 1976 Saturn Award for Best Actor over.
1990 saw the man in a small(ish) role -- especially considering his clout -- in the Warren Beatty-starring adaptation of Dick Tracy for the Walt Disney Company. Again, it's a film that's largely forgotten these days, but for its day it was a perfectly acceptable dose of pop culture inspired melodrama.
Suffice it to say, there are more performances to the man's record -- including his work in Misery (1990), Lathe Of Heaven (2002), and more -- that suggest he may be regarded as one of genre's most celebrated actors ... though we may never know just how much he appreciates the association. Whatever that truth may be, let's hope we celebrate what he's done throughout the ages.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mr. Caan.