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Interviews

James Caan on Being One of the Few Conservatives in Hollywood

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: The actor James Caan hit it big in "The Godfather" playing Sonny Corleone, and now at age 71, Mr. Caan continues his successful career despite being one of the few conservative actors in Hollywood. His new movie is called "Henry's Crime," and I spoke to him earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'REILLY: What I'm interested in talking to you about is how do you think that the country has changed?

JAMES CAAN, ACTOR: Well, from a political standpoint of view, the need for national pride, I think, is pretty imminent.

O'REILLY: Because after World War II, most of the country is united and the goal that they came back and people wanted good lives for their family and worked their way up. And now we're a divided nation, and some people are left, some people are right. Would you call yourself a conservative now?

CAAN: Yeah. I've become conservative on, you know, because of the position we're in right now.

O'REILLY: Financial position. Things like that.

CAAN: Certainly financial and, you know, I've always said that if you are going to wear the badge that we've earned of sheriff of this...

O'REILLY: Of the world.

CAAN: Yes, of the world, then you'd better act like Wyatt Earp.

O'REILLY: That puts you in a minority in Hollywood.

CAAN: I guess so.

O'REILLY: There's a fear out there among some actors who aren't as accomplished as you if they say they're conservative they won't work.

CAAN: I'm being sort of a hypocrite because I don't like when actors talk politics.

O'REILLY: Yes, we never hear you talk politics.

CAAN: Well, I don't, but I'm on the "O'Reilly" show.

O'REILLY: I'm forcing you to do it, but why don't you like actors to talk about politics?

CAAN: Because they haven't got political science degrees, you know, most of them.

O'REILLY: It does get annoying when somebody like Barbra Streisand are saying -- does a website, a political website. People who need liberal people are the luckiest people in the world.

CAAN: I study her.

O'REILLY: Now, in Hollywood also, we're not as tough as we used to be. I remember a movie called "El Dorado." You're a young guy. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and you. Three tough guys.

CAAN: Wayne was kind of like you; he was an intimidator. He was an intimidator.

O'REILLY: Me?

CAAN: Oh, sure. I think you like it. It's not going to work with me.

O'REILLY: It's not going to work with Sonny Corleone.

CAAN: No, no.

O'REILLY: Just don't give me the Carlo. Back then in Hollywood, these were really tough guys, tough guys that came up the hard way, and that showed through on the screen. Same thing with you.

CAAN: Bobby Duvall used to make fun of me by making -- I'd say acting is a silly thing for a grownup to do. It's not really a job. As I grow older, I do believe in art. I studied. I didn't study how to be a tough guy. My neighborhood taught me how to do that.

O'REILLY: That's right. But you brought that with you.

CAAN: Well, it's part of me. But the point is, I sing and dance, but nobody remembers that, you know.

O'REILLY: But now, Keanu Reeves is the lead in your new movie, "Henry's Crime." Now, Reeves is a different kind of guy. It seems to be this is what the leading man is these days.

CAAN: John Wayne, when he first started talking, I had to laugh for the first week that I was there. "Now look it, kid, why?" -- who talks like that?

O'REILLY: Now, you've been around a long time.

CAAN: Well, you don't have push that crap.

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not pushing it. I'm just stating a fact. No Spin Zone. Do you feel that you're lucky?

CAAN: You know what? I have a son who's my pride and joy. You know Scott.

O'REILLY: Sure.

CAAN: I feel sorry for him and those people. I'm really lucky because in the '70s and '80s, in the late '70s and '80s, I had the ability to work with the best actors, directors and the best in every department, you know. And that's not so true today.

O'REILLY: Finally, when you make a movie like "The Godfather," which I consider the best movie of all time, early on did you know what you had there?

CAAN: What I did know, and since that point it's held true, I found that we all like one another and we had a good time. Usually those pictures have a better chance of success.

O'REILLY: Even Brando, did he fit into the gang?

CAAN: Brando was great.

O'REILLY: Yes?

CAAN: He was -- he was great.

O'REILLY: Well, I've admired you for many years, Mr. Caan. It's a pleasure to have you in here.

CAAN: I'm a big fan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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