Both Caan and Peckinpah were as hot-headed as they come. “Sam really was an outlaw sensibility, he did not feel comfortable in civilized company,” Paul Schrader once said of the director. When an explosion on the set of “The Killer Elite” went wrong and almost injured Caan, he was quick to blow up on the director. “I said to Sam, ‘I’ll beat you like a redheaded stepchild,'” the actor recalled to Bright Lights. He wasn’t afraid to match Peckinpah’s aggression.
In the end, the actor and director were so alike that they couldn’t help but respect one another. “Sam was great, Sam was one of the best,” Caan told Take2MarkTV. “He was nuts, he was great though. I mean, he could care less. He was a lot of fun to work with.” The actor was even asked to give a quote for the back cover of Peckinpah’s biography. “He called and said mine was the best. I had written, ‘Two more signatures and I’ll have him committed,'” Caan recounted, per Bright Lights.
It’s a shame that Peckinpahn and Caan never got to work together again after “The Killer Elite.” Even though tensions ran very high on set, it’s likely that Caan would have worked with the director again if he had another opportunity. Peckinpah had a reputation for being difficult, but Caan could recognize his genius. Love him or hate him, Peckinpah created some unforgettable works of art that bloodied up cinema forever — and they almost bloodied up another Hollywood legend along the way.