Actor James Caan – star of films including The Godfather and Elf – has died at the age of 82.

His family said in a statement on Twitter: “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6.

“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. End of tweet”.

Caan was born in 1940 in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants from Germany.

James Caan February 22, 2022. Pic: AP

Image: Pic: AP

Keen to avoid following his father into the meat trade, he initially eyed a career in American football, but became interested in acting during university.

His big break came in 1972 when he played the hot-headed and turbulent Sonny in The Godfather, a role which saw him nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor, as well as a Golden Globe.

He reprised the role in Godfather II.

Caan also earned an Emmy nomination as the cancer-stricken Chicago Bears star Brian Piccolo in ABC’s Brian’s Song.

James Caan (centre right) as Sonny Corleone with his co-stars in the Godfather - Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and John Cazale

Image: James Caan (centre right) as Sonny Corleone with his co-stars in the Godfather – Al Pacino (l), Marlon Brando and John Cazale (r)

James Caan (left) with Will Ferrell in Elf

Image: James Caan (left) with Will Ferrell in Elf

Other appearances included Honeymoon In Vegas, Bulletproof, Mickey Blue Eyes, Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, and the Christmas comedy Elf, in which he played Will Ferrell’s businessman father.

Caan was married four times, most recently to Linda Stokes between 1995 and 2017.

He had five children, one of whom – Scott – followed him into acting, appearing in Ocean’s Eleven, Gone In 60 Seconds, and the Hawaii Five-0 reboot.