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VIDEO GAME Stars given offers they couldn't refuse



Published: Mon, February 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Game? What's a game? These guys just don't understand.

By DERRIK J. LANG

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Robert Duvall and James Caan aren't taking themselves or their latest reunion seriously.

No, the pair find anything and everything funny, especially the fact that they're reprising their memorable roles for "The Godfather" video game.

Maybe that's because neither has ever played a video game before.

"Not to be maudlin about it, but my kids can play with me after I'm gone," says Caan, sitting next to Duvall in a suite at the Four Seasons.

"Do what?" Duvall asks, either genuinely confused or sincerely coy.

"They can see me after I'm gone," Caan says matter-of-factly.

"Gone where?"

"With Brando!" Caan clamors. "You know what I mean!"

The old friends leisurely banter on a day when a multitude of press is probing them for soundbites about the 1972 film and the recently announced video game, a subject they know little about. Duvall and Caan -- both prefer to go by Bobby and Jimmy, respectively -- tackle the task with ease, roosting in their own world of zingers and sarcasm.

"My agent called," says Duvall on how he was approached to do the game. "He loves 10 percent of anything. Some of the other guys didn't want to do it. Brando did it before," Duvall pauses, clasps his hands and gazes up at the ceiling, "he went skyward."

The shooting starts

True, before his death last year, Marlon Brando recorded his voice for the Electronic Arts' game, which loosely follows the film's plot. In the game, players create unique personas and go at it in shoot-'em-up missions similar to the "Grand Theft Auto" series. They'll also be able to interact with the likes of Caan's mobster Sonny Corleone and Duvall's consigliere Tom Hagen.

To Caan, it seems like only yesterday the cast and crew were celebrating the film's 25th anniversary, and the day before was the first day of shooting. Despite the lapse, neither had problems stepping back into their roles to record their parts for the game.

"It's like somebody goes out of the room and comes back in, and he's got makeup on that looks like 30 years later," says Duvall. "It was just there. It just came back. It's kind of strange."

"But Bobby's looking much older," Caan jokes. "I'm looking the same."

"No you're not," Duvall retorts.

Both laugh uproariously.

Time machine

Actually, even though Caan's face received the motion-capture treatment, both appeared as their youthful Mafioso characters from "The Godfather" in clips from the game shown at a Little Italy premiere party. The finished product won't hit stores until fall.

The game is only another notch in the actor's coinciding resumes. Duvall and Caan worked together in such films as "The Rain People" and "The Killer Elite." Both also, Duvall notes, have the distinction of playing Will Ferrell's father. Caan was Ferrell's long lost pops in "Elf" and Duvall does daddy in the upcoming comedy "Kicking and Screaming."

Caan has tried -- unsuccessfully -- to work with Duvall since.

"One day he sent me a script," Duvall explains. "I'm in a wheelchair, and he's an old guy in a string bikini."

"It would've been a great role," Caan counters.

Both laugh uproariously again.

Although Caan got knocked off in the first film of the trilogy, he'd sign up for a fourth outing if director Francis Ford Coppola was involved. Duvall isn't so sure.

"If they gave us enough money, I'd do it," says Caan. "I'm a whore. I admit it."

"Yeah, but a whore with a foundation," replies Duvall.

More uproarious laughter.




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