James Caan’s Slow And Deliberate Approach To Thief Even Extended To His Speech

Frank’s unapologetic and careful nature in “Thief” is one of many reasons that James Caan decided to be more deliberate in his approach to delivering his lines. In a 2021 retrospective piece from The Ringer on “Thief,” the actor went into detail about the work that went into his character’s dialect and Chicago accent. “I never have to repeat myself,”¬†Caan explained about his approach to speaking as Frank, which included never using contractions. “Haste makes waste.”

Michael Mann apparently hadn’t noticed what Caan was doing with his performance until they were deep into shooting. When the director brought it up to Caan and asked the actor “what the f***” he was doing, the actor candidly replied, “Welcome to the party. It’s only been about three weeks since we’ve been shooting.”

Mann and Caan’s playful banter speaks to the positive working relationship that helped make “Thief” as unique and compelling as it is. Caan’s decision to refrain from using contractions when playing his character also overlapped with Mann’s direction for the other actors in the film, as Jim Belushi recalled:

“[Mann] said, ‘Buddy, these moments of communication between these men, one mistake could get them killed or in jail. So they never speak in contractions. Ever.'”

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