Movies - TV
Misery Proved James Caan Was Willing To Do What Many Other
Actors
Weren't
By ERIC VESPE
On the commentary track for "Misery," director Rob Reiner makes it clear that many of the top stars of the time were intimidated at the notion of playing a bedridden leading man and turned down the role of Paul Sheldon. The list includes Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, and Michael Douglas.
James Caan, it turns out, was not intimidated by playing this part, and movie history was made. The one scene that showcases his talent as an actor is when he orchestrates a romantic candlelit dinner and sneaks a lethal dose of pain medication into Annie's wine.
The look on Caan's face as his one ticket to freedom spills out over the table is why you cast an actor of Caan's caliber in that role. It's part 1,000-yard stare, part disbelief, part sadness, and it's all is sold in Caan's eyes and slack face. The fact that someone so capable is at the mercy of this crazed romance novel enthusiast is part of the flavor that makes "Misery" such a success.