It was the fall of 2002, and Rothesay’s David Reid was in his office high up in Brunswick House, in Saint John’s uptown when his phone rang.
When he picked up, a man on the other end of the line introduced himself as JImmy Caan.
“I knew that he was in town because, you know, I mean, he’s a big name,” Reid, who is now retired, recalled in a telephone interview.
“I was, I guess, kind of shocked, but I guess I had some understanding of what the guy was all about.”
The Oscar-nominated Caan was filming a movie in Saint John’s uptown called Jericho Mansions, a thriller about a series of murders in an apartment complex, and what he was all about right now was finding a golf game.
He was calling from the set, just down the street from Reid’s office.
“I could see him from my window and he had a t-shirt on … and he was swinging a golf club and said, ‘Hey, thanks very much. I got your name from so-and-so. Uh, any chance of getting out for a round of golf?’
“And I said, ‘Look, I’d be honoured. I’ll get a couple of my buddies and we’ll get out for a round of golf,'” Reid said.
Reid arranged for a tee time at Riverside Golf Club in Rothesay the next day, and contacted his friends Val Streeter and Jeremy Pearson to make a foursome.
“We got together and our first round of golf, all hell broke loose at the golf club because the word got out, and of course all the female players at the club couldn’t wait to see James.”
Caan died on Wednesday at the age of 82. While known for dramatic roles in his early career, including Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, Caan would eventually take on comedic roles that played on his tough guy image, like the part of Buddy the Elf’s estranged father in the Will Ferrell hit Elf.
Despite Caan’s celebrity status, Reid said, he and his friends made a point of treating the actor like a golfing buddy.
“I was very, very comfortable with it. I mean, he wanted to play golf and I knew for sure that I wanted to be with the guy just to get to know him.”
Reid said Caan was very comfortable too.
“We called him Jimmy. He wanted us to call him Jimmy,” he said. “I don’t know how many rounds we played, but I’m going to say we played three or four or five rounds over the week.
“And I think we spent so much time with him because he did feel comfortable with the fact that we were comfortable with him and we weren’t mauling him or anything like that. And we weren’t peppering him with questions. We were just hanging out together.”
That included time on the golf course, in the clubhouse afterwards, and at Reid’s home for dinner a couple of times.
It also probably didn’t hurt that the four men shared a comparable skill level on the links.
“He sucked. And so do all of us. And I should say that we always played for money. Not a lot of money. And, of course, at the end of the day, the guys that made the money had to buy the drinks back at the golf club.”
Reid said the time on the golf course morphed into a friendship, and Caan invited him on set on the final day of shooting, and gave him a small gift to thank him.
He said he thought back to those times when he learned of Caan’s death.
“I just got back from golf and I was scrolling through on my iPhone … and it just popped [up] and I was saddened, and it, of course, it jogs the memory.”
“He was one of the guys. He was. He really was one of the guys.”